Too Much PC? Newspaper Erases 3 Democrats From Photo

Wednesday, 19 May 2010 02:07 PM

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The daily newspaper in Morgantown, W.Va., may have gotten carried away with political correctness when it erased three Democratic legislators from a ceremonial photo — on the front page, no less, and it’s taking its licks for it.

The Dominion Post darkroom magic (well, in the old days, it was darkroom magic; these days, computer magic is more likely) morphed a front-page story about the governor’s signing a new law from one featuring six people to just a trio, according to a story that Ben Adducchio and Emily Corio wrote about the incident for wvpubcast.org.

The newspaper opted to remove the three Democratic sponsors of Erin’s Law, which toughens penalties for deadly hit-and-run car accidents and is named in honor of Erin Keener, a West Virginia University student who was killed in a hit-run in 2005.

The photo features Gov. Joe Manchin and two members of Keener’s family, but not Marion County House of Delegates members Mike Caputo, Linda Longstreth, and Tim Manchin.

The newspaper’s explanation is that it doesn’t run photos of candidates running for re-election. Many journalism observers say the paper not only crossed the line of political objectivity, but ran over it repeatedly, even though the picture is labeled as a "photo illustration."

“That’s beyond the press standards in my opinion,” said Martin Valent, a photographer for the West Virginia Legislative Reference and Information Center who took the photo. “A photo is a photo-it is the reality. It represents what is being captured.”

Ironically, in the days before computers, photographers themselves generally were the culprits in doctoring photos — sometimes in the darkroom, and sometimes, adding props such as stop signs or shoes in the street at accident scenes.

To read the full wvpubcast.org story about the erased images — Click Here Now.

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