U.S. photojournalist fired for altering images

Award-winning photojournalist Bryan Patrick was fired from the Sacramento Bee for manipulating photographs, the newspaper announced Saturday, Feb. 4. A review of Patrick's work showed at least photos had been altered going back to 2009, the newspaper said.

The manipulation, a violation of the newspaper's ethics policy, came to light thanks to a reader, who emailed the newspaper suggesting that a photo of an egret taken during the Galt Winter Bird Festival, published Sunday, Jan. 29, had been altered. The newspaper published a correction on Wednesday.

"We’re talking about violating a fundamental code of ethics in the name of something relatively minor," said Sean Elliot, president of the National Press Photographers Association, as quoted by Poynter. "If he’s willing to move a couple of egrets around, if he’s willing to jazz up flames to make a photo more exciting, how do we know there aren’t more? … How do we trust the work?"

The Guardian's Bob Garfield raises an interesting question about ethics, however, asking "Don't all journalists alter reality?" After all, he noted, "Are you aware that people don't speak in handy two-sentence bursts of clarity? Did you know that folks say 'um' a lot?"