CHINA / National
Editor quits, paper apologizes over doctored photo
Updated: 2008-02-19 07:56
A newspaper apologized Monday and its chief editor resigned over a fake picture scandal, in which a photographer manipulated images to show Tibetan antelopes roaming under a bridge on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.
The Daqing Evening News, based in the oil city of Daqing, Heilongjiang province, said in a statement on its website: "We sincerely apologize to Chinese Central Television (CCTV), Xinhuanet and other media that published the picture."
"We also apologize to the photography circle and the public for the bad influence of the fake photo."
Photographer Liu Weiqiang's fake shot that appears to show Tibetan antelopes crossing near a bridge on the Qinghai-Tibet railway as a train passes. Wang Zhongyi, chief editor of the newspaper, resigned on Sunday over the scandal, according to sources at the Daqing-based press.
The newspaper's apology came two days after staff photographer Liu Weiqiang, 41, admitted he faked the picture.
The award-winning photographer, who is also an activist for the protection of Tibetan antelope, apologized to the public for the shot that showed more than 20 antelope roaming calmly under a railway bridge as a high-speed train was passing.
"I've carefully read through all the Internet postings about the picture, which I'm ready to say, was modified with Photoshop software," Liu said on Saturday in a forum at the photography website Xitek.com.
The incident came to light on Feb 8, when a post on the same forum pointed to three pieces of evidence that suggested the shot had been fabricated.
One of them was a red line, which, once magnified appeared to show the join of two separate pictures.
There were also questions raised over how calm the antelope appeared to be despite the passing of a noisy, high-speed train.
Zoologists said Tibetan antelopes are easily disturbed by even the slightest sound, yet the ones in Liu's photo were perfectly calm.
Liu claimed to have taken the photo on June 23, 2006, a week before the official opening of the railway.
His work, named "Qinghai-Tibet railway opening, green passageway for wild animals", was named among the 10 most impressive news photos of 2006 at an annual event sponsored by CCTV.
"It was designed to be a poster, but was published on many websites for free," Liu wrote in the posting.
"I was very surprised it stood out in the CCTV photo contest."
At the CCTV award ceremony on Dec 27, 2006, Liu said he had waited for eight days and nights in the uninhabited land of Hoh Xil, situated more than 4,000 m above sea level, to capture the shot, according to scripts of the event still available at CCTV.com.
In his post Liu said: "I spent two weeks there waiting for the antelopes and train to appear together, but they never did."