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Mirror breached Editors' Code by using telephoto pics alongside claims cyclists were breaking lockdown rules

Complainant said photo gave a distorted impression of the distance between him and the other cyclists

The Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has concluded that breached the Editors' Code of Practice in an article from April 4 2020, headlined “Cyclists ignore UK coronavirus lockdown rules as they ride together in the sun.” The body upheld a complaint about the use of a photo that gave a distorted impression of the distance between cyclists, concluding it was clear they were actually at least two metres apart.

A number of newspapers were accused of distorting the truth through the use of misleading photos of cyclists during the first lockdown last year.

Images were published in the Mail Online and the Mirror that appeared to show groups of cyclists huddled closely together in London’s Regent’s Park.

The newspapers suggested cyclists were flouting strict social distancing rules, but the photos were taken with a long lens that foreshortens the shot and gives a false impression of proximity.

The Times subsequently did something similar with photos of cyclists on Box Hill.

A number of people reported publications to IPSO, including Cycling UK.

Speaking at the time, campaigns director Duncan Dollimore explained: “The effect and implications of using a telescopic lens would have been known to the photographer.

“It has been used to bolster an inaccurate story and dangerous narrative, namely that it is somehow wrong and in breach of guidance and regulations to cycle outside during the COVID-19 crisis, and that groups of cyclists are routinely breaching the social distancing guidelines. None of this is supported by the facts reported or the images used.”

IPSO this week upheld a complaint made by Glen Tarman, one of the cyclists who appeared in photographs accompanying the Mirror story.

Tarman said that he had been cycling for exercise with one other member of his household, as permitted by government guidelines at the time.

He said that he did not know or engage with any of the other cyclists pictured and always maintained a two-metre distance from them.

He went on to say that the angle of the photo gave a distorted impression of the distance between him and the other cyclists, making them appear closer in proximity than they actually were, and that road markings visible in the photo proved this.

The Mirror did not accept it had breached the Code. It maintained the photo did not distort the positions of the cyclists and provided additional photographs taken by the same photographer which it said demonstrated this.

Cycling campaigner Mark Treasure also highlighted a claim made by the British Press Photographers' Association, which said it was a “misconception” that telephoto lenses gave a more crowded view of a scene.



IPSO disagreed.

It ruled that the cyclists in the image had maintained a two-metre social distance, as required by the government’s guidelines at the time of publication, and that the suggestion Tarman was ignoring the lockdown rules was misleading.

It has asked to add a correction to the online article and also publish a standalone correction in the online corrections and clarifications column.

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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Cookiebun | 3 years ago

The apology should be printed in the same page and take up the same space as the original article.

chadders | 3 years ago

The DM is one of the worst for this kind of thing. I enjoy writing in the comments section of a usually anti cycling article " cyclist aren't going away so we need to learn to share the space available" then sit back and watch the hateful replies flood in, hours of fun.

kingleo replied to chadders | 3 years ago

I'm a keyboard worrier who attacks the anticycling DM - for years I have suffered big losses, but recently I have had some draws and even some big wins - try to explain climate change to them if you want a good laugh.


philly | 3 years ago

“British Press Photographers' Association, which said it was a “misconception” that telephoto lenses gave a more crowded view of a scene.”

Of course a telephoto lens compresses a scene… sounds like the BPPA’s press officer needs a crash course in photography! 🤦🏻‍♂️

cbrndc | 3 years ago

Any photographer who claims that the focal length of a lens does not affect perspective and that longer lenses compress that perspective should be sacked as not being sufficiently qualified to ba a press photographer.

Dingaling replied to cbrndc | 3 years ago

My tablet was running out of juice when I wanted to say pretty much the same a couple of hours ago. My jaw dropped when I read that claim and I still haven't thought of anything obscene enough to say about the Br. Press Photographers Assoc.

NPlus1Bikelights | 3 years ago

Mirror, get Caded.

Hirsute | 3 years ago


makadu | 3 years ago

Hmm from the IPSO website;

  • We monitor press standards and require member newspapers and magazines to submit an annual statement about how they follow the Editors’ Code and handle any complaints.
  • We can investigate serious standards failings and can fine publishers up to £1 million in cases where they are particularly serious and systemic.

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how much DM will be fined?

Grahamd replied to makadu | 3 years ago
1 like

Not enough to buy a lottery ticket.

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