AFP Issues Apology For Running Photog's Syria Image For Iraq War

But why wasn't a faked photo submission caught?

syria AFP
syria AFP

On August 4th, an AFP stringer in Iraq uploaded a low-resolution image of what he claimed Sinjar in Iraqi Kurdistan—and the AFP syndicated it out to its clients across the globe. The problem? The image was stolen from famed photojournalist Lynsey Addario, and was actually taken in Syria in August 2013 for the New York Times. While the AFP ordered a kill on the image and publically apologized, it still raises the question of why this happened int he first place.

On Facebook, the AFP explained the situation, saying:

Agence France-Presse (AFP) wishes to publicly express its deepest apologies to renowned photojournalist Lynsey Addario for a mistake we made on August 4, 2014. On our photo wire, we wrongly used one of her pictures taken in Syria in August 2013 for the New York Times. We had been led to believe that it was taken by a photo stringer on August 4, 2014 in the area of Sinjar in Iraqi Kurdistan.

We discovered the mistake the following day. We immediately issued a Mandatory Kill (below) asking our subscribers not to use the picture. At AFP, we are all aware of Lynsey Addario's great reputation and have immense respect for her work - which makes this mistake even more painful.

We would like to assure Lynsey Addario, the New York Times and all our subscribers that we will take every measure possible to avoid any such mistakes in the future, and that very serious steps are being taken to find where we failed in the editorial process and rebuild confidence in the strength of our ethical and editorial standards.

Addario herself showed up in the comments, and said:

Please note AFP public apology for syndicating one of my photographs after an Iraqi stringer filed to AFP a low res version of my photo, originally shot on assignment for the New York Times in August 2013, and claimed it his own. While I appreciate the apology from AFP, one issue remains clear: AFP accepted and syndicated a low-res, pirated image without recognizing or questioning its authenticity. We have entered a time where news organizations are increasingly buying material from citizen journalists and amateur photographers who have not been schooled in the basic ethics of photojournalism, and editors and photographers need to be more vigilant when they buy and syndicate work.

This isn't the first time the AFP has landed in hot water over practices such as this. Late last year photographer Daniel Morel was awarded $1.2 million from Getty and AFP after they accepted work from another photographer that was actually his, and then licensed and sold it down their wire services. Obviously AFP acted far more quickly in the case of Addario's image, but nonetheless it's the same basic problem—someone taking a photojournalist's image, and selling it a major news agency, at which point it gets syndicated.

Hopefully with increased attention, wire services can do more to prevent this happening in the future.

ADVERTISEMENT