Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Another case of ethics?

I had thought about chiming in on Allan Detrich's firing from the Toledo Blade after it was discovered that he turned in some altered images as the genuine article, but there was nothing I felt I could add to the debate that hadn't already been said.

And besides, you've got Detrich himself speaking about the incident to Jim Merithew of the San Francisco Chronicle. Why do you need to hear from anyone else?

Word spread fast in the photojournalism community and within mere hours of the news I had already been e-mailed by colleagues with articles and his portfolio.

It's a shame, clearly the man was talented, but I guess the temptation to push it just a little bit was to much. (I've got ideas for ways to avoid the temptation, but that's a topic for another post.)

So why am I bringing it up today? Well, today once again I am reminded that in my career field of choosing, the real world doesn't always live up to the ideals we that we learn and debate in academia.

The Press Club of Dallas today announced that their yearly contest had been tampered with and that awards going back to 2005 may have been acts of fraud.

The entries for the 2006 Katie Awards apparently never went before judges, and competitions from 2004 and 2005 also are under investigation, said club President Tom Stewart.

The Press Club has a nearly 50 year history of honoring journalist and photographers in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico. It's a shame to see this happen and for the pattern of fraud, lies and deceit to continue.

And after a quick visit to Wikipedia it doesn't look like it's anything new or that it's going to end anytime soon.

Just a few off hand:

-1980's Pulitzer Prize winning story on an 8-year-old heroin addict turned out to be a web by lies spun by Janet Cooke of the Washington Post.

-In 1992 The Oregonian admitted to ignoring allegations of sexual harassment charges against Oregon Republican Sen. Robert Packwood, even keeping hush after knowing of his behavior with one of their female reporters

-2006 hit Wired Magazine hard when freelance writer Philip Chien's articals couldn't be varified and it was discovered that he had even tried to mislead fact checkers with planted e-mails.

-Recently it was revealed that one of Katie Couric's online columns had been plagiarized from a Wall Street Journal article (seriously, like no one reads the WSJ!??) Couric survived the discretion unscathed mostly because she doesn't actually write the online columns, just signs her name to them and pretends they are her words.

And of course we all know about Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, Brian Walski and the Lebanon smoke pictures.

I guess as long as jobs are scare and the pressure to rise to the top is great, some people will give in to the temptation and begin their very public fall from grace.

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