L&L defends pic editor over cover kerfuffle

  • Media
  • September 3, 2009
  • Frances Chan

Despite admitting it was “a bit unfortunate”, NZ Life and Leisure editor Kate Coughlan stands by the “impeccable” reputation of Fairfax pictures editor, Sybille Hetet.

“We went through the right channels and presumed this was cleared. We have strict processes for use of photos.”

L&L was pilloried by ACP’s Paul Dykzeul for running the same image on this month’s L&L as was on the February 2008 cover of KiaOra, Air New Zealand’s magazine, produced under contract by ACP.

Ms Hetet, who sourced the image in question from Photo New Zealand, is on holiday in Germany for a month.

Director of Photo NZ, Rob Lile, is keeping mum, after he posted two heated comments on StopPress. Lile holds up his company’s reputation, also saying it follows “strict” procedures. Lile says an investigation is taking place between Photo NZ and Fairfax, but until Hetet gets back from her European break, the discussion is officially out of the public arena.

Coughlan remains unruffled but perhaps slightly regretful that “it was the first time ever we had not done our own cover.”

L&L chose the shot by Becky Nunes because it encapsulated the feeling and colours they wanted to portray on their cover. Nunes is a regular contributor to the magazine in any case. To commission another photographer to create a similar shot was not compatible with budget and time restraints. And even though Coughlan sees every issue of KiaOra, the penny didn’t drop.

Coughlan is more intrigued about the reproduction of the image. “When you put it on 300gsm quality – you’ve got something,” she says, referring to KiaOra’s thinner cover stock. And no, it wasn’t manipulated (as ACP's Dykzeul suggested). “My readers are the only ones that matter and they will react to the image as part of L&L. It is an entirely appropriate image for us.”

She agrees there needs to be more controls in the industry on the “provenance of photos and the use of them”.

If Hetet runs into the Black Forest, we don’t blame her. Our post on the cover confusion induced a tidal wave of comments – some hilarious and some outright catty.

As magazine publishers ourselves we feel Fairfax’s pain. Lord knows it can happen to the best of us – and Kate is the best, for sure.

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