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Thursday, December 4, 2003
Newspaper disturbed by photo alteration

Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- A photo in Missouri's basketball media guide was altered to erase Ricky Clemons, the troubled point guard who was tossed off the team last summer.

Ricky Clemons
Mizzou made Clemons disappear from the 2003 media guide.
Clemons' image was edited out of a photo of Missouri's home victory over Colorado on Feb. 1.

The altering of the Columbia Daily Tribune image of the celebration scene was not unusual, said Chad Moller, the school's director of athletic media relations.

"We do that with photos quite frequently if there is something in the photo we don't like," Moller said.

Clemons has served jail time after pleading guilty in a domestic assault case.

In the unedited picture by Tribune photographer Ed Pfueller, Clemons is seen walking behind two other players.

In the manipulated version, Clemons is gone, replaced by a cut-and-paste repeat of courtside spectators. Clemons' reflection is still slightly visible on the basketball court.

Moller said basketball team spokesman Sam Fleury, responsible for design of the media guide, decided to erase Clemons' image.

"I guess I would say it's because he is no longer on the team," Moller said.

Jim Robertson, managing editor of the Tribune, said the newspaper has allowed the athletic department to use its photos in team media guides. But he said the Tribune never approved manipulation of its pictures.

"I was surprised that they used it like that and I think they should have known better. We are putting into place procedures to assure that any use of our photos reflects our standard for the truth," Robertson said.

But Moller said the school "assumed that since they gave us permission to use the photo we could do what we wanted with it."

"We certainly didn't mean to offend anyone, but in the future, if we do use photos from them, we won't change them," Moller said.

Clemons, a junior-college transfer, pleaded guilty in April to two misdemeanors.

Clemons' former girlfriend, Jessica Bunge, said the player choked her in a headlock and refused to let her leave his Columbia apartment for more than an hour.

He was kicked off the team in July after a judge determined Clemons violated conditions for serving his sentence in a halfway house and ordered him to jail. This fall, he re-enrolled at Missouri but isn't playing basketball.