Captain Moonlight: Photographic ethics

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The Independent Online
BIG MOVIES, big hair, and the Americans are getting so big on ethics in news photography that an AP picture of Socks, the Clintons' cat, sitting on the White House podium, recently went out with an 'advisor', explaining that the cat's minder had actually placed the cat on the podium, lest readers be duped into believing that the world-famous pet had climbed there of its own accord. A resourceful Florida news snapper who painted a team logo on the soles of a sports fan's shoes, and then took a picture of him with his feet up, was sacked.

Not so here. On 9 March several papers carried a picture of a grim-faced man carrying a box draped in black out of the Gloucester 'House of Death', while a policeman bowed his head sepulchrally. 'Human remains are carried from Cromwell Street,' drooled the captions. Actually, there weren't any human remains in the box at all. The whole thing had been laid on by the police to placate the frustrated snappers who hadn't had anything spooky to photograph for a while. 'We did it and decided whatever story they wanted to print was up to them,' the Gloucester Police told the British Journal of Photography.

(Photograph omitted)