Monday, November 14, 2005

The New York Times Falls Victim to Fake D200 Photo

First there was Jayson Blair and his bogus stories. Then there was Judith Miller and her stories about weapons of mass destruction (which we all know did not exist). And now there's a new scandal at the venerable Gray Lady, The New York Times -- an article about the yet-to-be-released Nikon D200 with a photograph of said camera prominently displayed for all to see.

OK, so maybe it's not a scandal of the same proportion as Blair and Miller, but it's pathetic nonetheless.

So, what's the big deal you ask? Well, the problem is that the photo of the Nikon D200 (the camera above is the one they used) accompanying the story is fake. It's a composite photo of a number of different cameras put together in Photoshop. And to make matters worse, the Times article, entitled "A Betwixt and Between Nikon: 10.2 Megapixels for $1,700," came out on November 10, a full nine days after the camera was announced. Nikon already had press photos of the actual camera available by then.

Well, after some postings on various digital camera forums and probably tons of e-mails to the newspaper that started off "Yo. Morons. That picture of the Nikon D200 is a fake." The Times finally replaced the fake photo with one of the actual camera. They corrected the story on their web site, but the article ran in various editions of the paper with the fake photo.

Here's how The Times corrected the mistake:

A picture that originally appeared with this article was published in error. The picture had circulated online in anticipation of the camera's release, but did not portray the final product. The correct image is above.

Didn't portray the final product? Hell, it didn't portray any product because the photo they ran depicts a camera that doesn't exist. But hey, at least they admitted their error and corrected it quickly.

The correction leaves more questions than its answers, however. Why did they run the photo in the first place? Granted, they probably didn't know it was a fake. But the fact that they swiped the photo off the Internet in the first place, instead of going to Nikon for the real thing is troubling.

Since the photo was fake, they obviously swiped it off someone's web site, or worse from a Nikon forum posting. I say worse because if they did get it from a Nikon forum, just reading a post or two would have clued them into the fact that the photo was a fraud.

I suspect they prepared the story in advance of Nikon's Nov. 1 D200 press release and were looking for a photo to illustrate the story. Since they couldn't get one out of Nikon (though I have no idea why. Nikon makes these things available to the press long in advance of their official announcements), they figured they'd troll the Internet for a photo.

I guess we should give them an "A" for effort, but they still win the "Stupid is as Stupid Does Award." A little bit of research would have uncovered the fact that there were dozens of these fake D200 photos floating around out there. All they had to do was Google "Nikon D200" and they would have known what was going on.

Nice going guys. So far you're three for three!

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