ICE blogs

March 1, 2008

Acclaimed photo was fake

Filed under: News, Headlines, journalism, professional ethics, photojournalism — news_editor @ 1:47 am

Nature reports that an award-winning photograph of a herd of endangered Tibetan antelopes apparently undisturbed by a passing train on the controversial Qinghai–Tibet railway has been exposed as a fake. The image was widely hailed in China as a symbol of harmonious co-existence between man and nature and strong testimony against any adverse effect of the new railway on the animals. Photographer Liu Wei-qiang admitted the fabrication last week after comments on the Chinese online photography forum Without Fear questioned the picture’s authenticity. Liu was promptly dismissed from the Daqing Evening News, based in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, where he was the deputy director of its photography department. The newspaper has also issued a public statement apologizing for the incident and announcing the resignation of its chief editor. ‘The train was real, and so were the antelopes,’ said Liu in a posting on the photography forum. ‘But the magic moment just didn’t happen even after I had waited for two weeks.’ Therefore, he decided to merge together one picture of a passing train with another of the migrating animals ‘to raise the public awareness of antelope protection’. The merged picture was published by more than 200 media outlets around the world and won Liu a bronze medal in the 2006 Most Influential News Photos of the Year competition, sponsored by CCTV, China’s state television. ‘The truth is probably the opposite of what the picture was trying to claim,’ says Su Jian-ping, a zoologist at the Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in Xining, Qinghai province. (Nature)

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