Tuesday, May 27, 2003

More on the Times meltdown. Washington Post gossip columnist Lloyd Grove reported this last Wednesday. But even though Romenesko flogged it, the departure of New York Times photographer Edward Keating -- accused of violating journalistic ethics for staging a photo of a gun-toting boy near Buffalo last fall -- didn't get much attention.

Given the meltdown now under way at the Times, Keating's alleged misdeeds should be considered alongside those of former Times reporter Jayson Blair and suspended Pulitzer winner Rick Bragg, who tells the Post today that he will quit. (Bragg, by the way, tells Howard Kurtz that Times editors knew precisely how heavily he relied on interns and stringers, and that he's now being made into an object lesson. What about it, Howell Raines?)

The Keating affair dates back to last September 20, when the Times ran a front-page photo of a young boy aiming a toy gun, terrorist-style, in the Buffalo suburb of Lackawanna, New York, where federal authorities were investigating an alleged Al Qaeda sleeper cell.

According to this piece in the Columbia Journalism Review, several other photographers at the scene were convinced that Keating had set it up, and persuaded their editors not to run it when it came in over the wires. As the CJR reports, the Times eventually ran an "Editors' Note" stating "that the boy's gesture had not been spontaneous," and that the paper "regrets this violation of its policy on journalistic integrity."

Keating -- who denied any wrongdoing then, and who denies it still in an e-mail exchange with Grove -- was suspended, and eventually left the paper. And it was Keating who took the portrait of a cigarette-smoking Blair that landed on the cover of Newsweek.

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