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AP Eliminates Digitally Altered Photo

July 16, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Associated Press inadvertently moved a digitally altered photograph of flooding in China on Thursday and advised its members on Friday not to use it.

The photo showed residents of China’s Shaanxi province trying to get through flooded streets on tricycles and bicycles.

Alerted by a reader in Finland who had seen the picture in a newspaper, editors checked and it became clear that the picture had been manipulated to show the flood waters were higher than they actually were.

The AP’s policy is not to transmit photos that have been digitally altered, except in circumstances where it cannot be avoided, said Santiago Lyon, director of photography.

The AP sent an advisory to subscribers of its photo service that the photo should not be used, and killed it from its system. The advisory moved more than 24 hours after the picture had been sent.

The photographer, a stringer who was not identified, will no longer be permitted to supply the AP with pictures, Lyon said.

``Nothing is more important than our journalistic integrity and moving digitally altered photographs clashes with that,″ Lyon said.

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