From the DMN: Response from S.I. and Matthew Emmons after DMN Photographer busts Sports Illustrated for manipulating this Baylor football photo

Update, 6:40 pm Thursday, Nov. 29. By Michael Hamtil, photo editor

I just had a phone interview with photographer Matthew Emmons of US Presswire, who clarified that he had no role in the manipulation.

Meantime, blog/websites Jim Romenesko and Deadspin have published a response from a VP at Sports Illustrated who called the photo manipulation a “production error” that was “misleading,” and said the magazine would “run a correction next week.”

It’s heartening to hear that the magazine admits the error and will somehow correct it, but unless they issue a full explanation of how this happened and who was involved, it does nothing to restore credibility to the publication. Who was involved, what did they do, what are the publication’s guidelines, and how did this happen?

From Emmons:

“I don’t know what S.I. did. As a photographer I have no contact with them. I transmit the photos to the wire and what publications do with the images after they receive them is on their shoulders. I can’t speculate about it.”

“We capture the game as photographers, and transmit the scene as it was captured. Like your photographers on staff we transmit what we find, what we shoot. We’re a wire service that doesn’t manipulate the pictures. We’re about journalism integrity. We don’t change anything.”

Good for Emmons, still bad for S.I. And bad for the further damage they have done to readers’ perceptions of “the media.”

I for one won’t be buying the magazine until they give me an explanation I can buy.

Original entry:

When is black not black? When you would rather it be green?

The boundaries of truth in photography continue to blur, this time in, of all publications, Sports Illustrated.  The “Leading Off” section of the magazine displays a fine double-truck image of NCAA football by Matthew Emmons, a photographer shooting for US Presswire, of action from Baylor’s upset of Kansas State in Waco.

The problem?  Here is the original image as transmitted to the DMN:

Baylor Bears cornerback Joe Williams (22) celebrates after a goal line stop in the fourth quarter against the Kansas State Wildcats at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears beat the Wildcats 52-24. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE (Matthew Emmons/US Presswire)

The Baylor jersey colors have been changed at the magazine from black to green for publication.  Just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating, I checked the take from DMN photographer Vernon Bryant, who was at the game and snapped many fine photos of the action, including this one:

Baylor Bears safety Sam Holl (25), linebacker Eddie Lackey (5), defensive lineman Beau Blackshear (95) and safety Mike Hicks (17) celebrate after Lackey sacked Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein (7) on fourth down to force a turnover on downs during the second half of play at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco on Saturday, November 17, 2012. The Bears upset the Kansas State 52-24. (Vernon Bryant/Staff Photographer)

Yes, those are black jerseys.  I also watched part of the game on TV and was sure I had seen black jerseys, only to pick up the copy of America’s most-venerated sports publication to see that a double-truck photo misrepresents the reality of what happened that Saturday night in Waco.

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but in an age where digital manipulation can, and is, eroding the public’s confidence in what they see produced by professional photojournalists as visual truth, do we really want to do this?

I sure hope the answer is no.


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