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Magnum’s moment of reckoning

In the nearly three years since the #MeToo movement transformed journalism, Magnum Photos, the world’s most prestigious photo agency, has portrayed itself as an industry leader. Magnum issued a code of conduct for its members in 2018, and its CEO boasted the same year it had not received a single complaint against any of its photographers. The agency chose women as both president and CEO, added more female photographers, and insisted it was taking harassment and abuse seriously.

But even as Magnum touted its efforts to confront the industry’s abuses, women who worked with one of the agency’s best-known photographers were telling a different story. Eleven women have described to CJR inappropriate behavior from David Alan Harvey over a span of thirteen years, ranging from suggestive comments to unwanted sexual advances to masturbating without their consent on video calls. His behavior was reported to Magnum as early as 2009, but the agency sat on the information for more than a decade. It finally took action in August of this year, but only after the allegations spilled into public: a story published on the website Fstoppers reported that Magnum was selling explicit photographs of sexually exploited minors on its website, including photographs from a series taken by Harvey in Bangkok in 1989. That led photojournalist Amanda Mustard to write a Twitter thread about Harvey, alleging that sexual misconduct allegations against him were an open secret in the industry.

Magnum’s moment of reckoning

Columbia Journalism Review 

Kristen Chick

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