Sometimes, just crop

You may have already read about yet another ethics blowup regarding news photographs. The Toledo paper ran this correction on this photo of a baseball team because the photographer altered the image. A person’s legs under the “19” banner were wiped away. The photographer says the altered version was for his own use, but it got into print anyway. He has resigned.

One way to use the photo and eliminate the distracting legs is to crop it from the right side. Yes, you do lose some the banners honoring the fallen players. A careful crop, however, keeps the storytelling value of the photo intact and maintains the dramatic horizontal orientation. And it’s ethical.

I’ve worked in newsrooms where copy editors designed pages and cropped photos. I’ve also worked in newsrooms where the photo desk did the cropping, copy editors edited and wrote headlines, and designers laid out pages. Both systems can work, provided that collaboration is encouraged. Once in a while, the word people can think visually. Maybe they could have done so here.

UPDATE: The Blade’s executive editor explains and apologizes. His column includes examples of more altered photos from the photographer.