Australian Newspaper Learns How Not to Use Boston Marathon Victim Photos

The Daily Telegraph apologized for photoshopping a rival journalist's head onto a Marathon victim.

You would think that people would have learned (or just naturally understood) that no good can come from using images of Boston Marathon bombing survivors for comic effect. And yet, the Australian News Corp paper The Daily Telegraph apologized this week after photoshopping the head of a rival journalist onto the body of a Marathon survivor, then adding a turban for good measure.

The mashed-up image showed Mike Carlton, a columnist for the rival Sydney Morning Herald, who had resigned because of language he used responding to critics of a column on Gaza. Gleefully, The Daily Telegraph published a spread on his departure that used the image of Carlton’s head pasted onto the body of a man in rags. The headline read, “Mad Mike Goes to War.”

Soon enough, someone on Twitter recognized the image’s source material. Carlton’s body had come from a photo taken by Kenshin Okubo, of the Daily Free Press, showing bombing survivor James Costello dazed, seriously injured, and seeking help in the aftermath of the blasts at the Boston Marathon finish line. The apology from The Daily Telegraph editor was swift.

It does seem, as the image was featured in a story centered on something other than the Boston Marathon and didn’t seem to be purposefully drawing readers to make a comparison, that its use was just a case of poor judgement from an editor who needed a photo of someone looking war-torn. But the outrage machine has ground up plenty of other people who made light of those horrific images from the Marathon finish line in some way (remember Halloween costume girl?) that we should probably all know by know—in case it wasn’t self-evident—that those images carry some serious weight, they will be recognized, and if they’re not used with respect, then they will upset people.