Days after NBC edited photos of transgender University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas to soften the athlete's appearance, photojournalist Erica Denhoff expressed her dismay at the cable news network, whom she says intentionally edited the photos she took.
NBC’s Today Show was lambasted on social media earlier this week for altering photographs of Thomas, seemingly to soften the biologically male athletes' masculine appearance amid the networks gushing coverage of Thomas, who won the women’s 500 freestyle in the NCAA Women’s Swimming Championship.
Thomas beat the competitors, who are biologically female, sparking outrage among women’s rights activists and conservatives alike.
Speaking to the Washington Examiner, Denhoff said she prides herself “on providing authentic images as a photojournalist,” and that she was “disappointed” by NBC’s decision to alter the photos.
As detailed by the publication, Denhoff graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008, where she was a varsity athlete on the university’s track and field team.
The photojournalist said she thought “something was honestly wrong with the video,” when she first saw the photographs aired by the network. However, after repeated viewings, she now believes that the edits were “intentional.”
“When I first noticed the airbrushing on the segment referenced, I thought something was honestly wrong with the video,” said Denhoff. “But then, I watched it again and thought, 'Wait a minute, this appears to be intentional. Lia’s features are softened.'”
“I then went to my original photo, on the sites that they could access to licence the photo, and compared it and immediately saw a difference,” said the photojournalist.
“It’s really important as photojournalists that we transmit authentic photos that have not been altered,” she added.
Anna Slatz provided photographic comparisons of the original pictures taken by Denhoff and those aired by NBC.
“To me, it definitely seems like something was going on with the airbrushing/noise reduction of all of Lia’s photos in this segment,” Denhoff said.
“My photo that they licensed was an authentic photo,” the photojournalist added. “I’m surprised and disappointed that Today altered my image of Lia for this particular news segment.”