Was that photo doctored?

Question: I e-mailed a letter to the editor on this subject a week ago. Not too surprising that it wasn't printed. But still I think that the doctored photo on Page 4 of the Aug. 12 edition needs some explaining. Or, if there has been some acknowledgement of it which I've missed, in which issue might I find that? -- Del Cameron, Coeur d'Alene

Answer: The letter was not printed because once an issue is addressed in our Accuracy Watch column we put an end to that discussion. The photo was not doctored. Our pre-press department, which prepares digital images for reproduction on the press over-corrected the photo in an effort to produce better contrast. The result was an "over-pixelization" that produced the effect some people assumed was layering of separate images to produce a single false image.

Our photo staff retrieved the original photo from the Associated Press and, with the assistance of AP, confirmed its veracity. In addition, a second wire service moved a photo taken by a different photographer of the same scene at about the same instant and that image shows the same figures in the same position.

It is a sign of the cynicism attendant to the war in Iraq that both pro- and con- sides seize on this photo as evidence of one plot or another. This was simpy a technical mistake made in the production process. -- Steve Smith, editor

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