Vice deleted its article profiling an artist who colorized mugshots of the Khmer Rouge “killing fields” victims after accusations that some photos had been edited to include smiles.
Vice’s article, published Friday, included photos colorized by artist Matt Loughrey depicting mugshots from the Tuol Sleng prison. 14,000 Cambodians were executed and tortured at the prison and the project aimed to humanize the victims, Loughrey said according to Vice’s now-deleted article.
Upon comparing the original photographs with the colorized ones, critics on social media pointed out that some of Loughrey’s images had allegedly been altered to add smiles. Vice’s article only had the colorized photos and didn’t publish originals, according to Reuters.
So @VICE ran an article with photo retoucher Matt Loughrey about images he colorized of victims of genocide in Cambodia. Not only did he colorize the images, he changed the expressions of the victims are created a bullshit narrative around it. Stunningly irresponsible stuff. pic.twitter.com/0gadODy5xN
— rob hoffman (@Rob_Hoffman) April 10, 2021
“The article included photographs of Khmer Rouge victims that Loughrey manipulated beyond colorisation,” Vice said in a statement according to Reuters. “We regret the error and will investigate how this failure of the editorial process occurred.”
Vice also noted that its story did not meet editorial standards. (RELATED: ‘We Cannot Attest To The Veracity Of This Article’: The Atlantic Forced To Retract Entire Story After Author ‘Deceived’ Them)
Prior to deleting, the publication’s interview with Loughrey even addressed the individuals smiling in mugshots, one critic noted. Loughrey suggested the smiles were due to “nervousness” and speculated that perhaps the person’s captor spoke differently to those particular people.
“I thought about this time and time again when I was working on them,” he said according to a screenshot of Vice’s interview. “We smile when we’re nervous. We smile when we have something to hide. One of the classic things is to try to be friendly with your captor. So a smile would seem natural.”
Vice’s article was removed Sunday, according to Reuters.