Romenesko reader and El Paso lawyer Richard Mattersdorf wrote in an email this morning: “Article about first openly gay TX state rep., El Paso’s Mary Gonzalez. First photo credit to AP’s Eric Gay. The woman pictured is not Mary Gonzalez.”
I let El Paso Times reporter Zahira Torres know, and she replied: “Thanks for the email. Your reader is correct. The woman in the photo is longtime state Rep. Senfronia Thompson. I am calling into the newspaper as we speak to find out why that photo was used.”
The layout was quickly changed.
UPDATE: Torres has an explanation after the jump.
My understanding is that the newspaper used the Associated Press photo of Rep. Thompson in the paper as part of a larger layout on the start of legislative session. The photo that ran on the front page of the paper was used as standalone art and included a cutline that identified Rep. Thompson and mentioned that she took the oath of office along with other representatives. We then ran a separate photo and story of Mary Gonzalez in the paper.
But both photos—the standalone art on Rep. Thompson and the photo of Mary Gonzalez—ended up in the online story about Mary Gonzalez when our online staff posted the story at midnight. That was a mistake.
I work from Austin and we don’t have a photographer here, so we try to use the Associated Press photos whenever possible. I took the photo of Mary Gonzalez on my iPhone and the resolution was likely not high enough to serve as the primary art in our newspaper. I assume that is why they chose to use an Associated Press photo and develop a larger package for the print copy.
The front page is on the Newseum’s website if you’d like to check it out. Here is a direct link.