NCAE president criticized for reposting doctored photo of teacher rally crowd

May 2, 2019

One day after thousands of teachers and supporters rallied at the General Assembly, the president of the North Carolina Association of Educators was facing criticism for reposting a doctored photo on Twitter that made the crowd look larger than it actually was.

NCAE President Mark Jewell posted multiple photos of the teacher rally on his social media accounts Wednesday, but one in particular caught the attention of a journalist, legislative staffer, policy analyst and others. The photo in question looks similar to one shared on Twitter earlier Wednesday by Rep. Grier Martin, D-Wake, but with more people in the crowd.

WRAL News examined both photos and found that the one Jewell posted without attribution appears to be doctored, with sections of the crowd copied and pasted to fill in empty grass at the back and front of Halifax Mall.

“We didn’t photoshop any photos at all,” Jewell told WRAL News on Thursday. “Those are photos that were being tweeted and retweeted and posted on Facebook and other social media.”

Jewell said he doesn’t remember where he found the photo, maybe Instagram, but he didn’t believe it was altered. When asked if he compared the photo on his Twitter account to Martin’s photo, Jewell said he had and didn’t think they were the same.

“It looks like obviously when the pictures were taken, they were from different angles of the field,” Jewell said. “We have no plans to take it down. We shared what’s being shared out there on other social media. We have no indication or any proof that it would be photoshopped or even that it’s the same picture.”

After WRAL News showed Jewell where the photo had been altered, he said he would take it down.

“Obviously, I think that this is entering a distraction territory, so I am removing it if you’re all saying it’s photoshopped,” he said.

The doctored version was shared by multiple Twitter accounts, but it’s unclear where it originated. It’s also unclear exactly how many people attended Wednesday’s teacher rally. Jewell said police told his group it was similar in size to last year’s rally, which drew an estimated 19,000 to 20,000 people.

“Obviously we thought yesterday’s turnout was great,” Jewell said. “We were extremely pleased.”