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Magnum suspends David Alan Harvey

Magnum has suspended American photojournalist, David Alan Harvey, for one year following an investigation by an unnamed person into an ‘historical allegation’ – of which no details are provided.

David Alan Harvey, photographed in 2017 by Christoper Michel. (Wikipedia)

Despite Magnum’s storied history of providing clarity and transparency to news stories around the world, the photojournalism collective has held back publishing critical information to help the public understand what the ‘historical allegation’ related to. Given Magnum deemed the matter sufficiently newsworthy to issue a ‘company update’, it’s odd its commitment to transparency didn’t extend to providing details of the allegation or the name of the accuser.

According to Magnum, an unnamed independent investigator thoroughly investigated accusations brought against Harvey in August, and Magnum’s Board, with the aid of outside legal counsel, resolved that Harvey’s behaviour ‘represented a breach of its code of conduct and by-laws’.

According to Fstoppers, Magnum refuses to share its bylaws and code of conduct, which all members signed in 2018, due to it being a ‘confidential human resources document’. There’s no word on who is the investigator or outside legal counsel, how Harvey’s behaviour breached his Magnum agreement, and why the board decided a one year suspension was an appropriate punishment. These are the typical ‘who, what, when, why, and how’ questions that serve as the bedrock of journalism, which a photojournalism institution like Magnum would surely hold sacred.

Magnum does, however, suggest the behaviour relates to inappropriate conduct relating to a form of harassment.

‘This decision affirms Magnum’s ongoing commitment to create a culture of dignity and respect, free of inappropriate conduct within the organisation and among the photographic community,’ the statement says. ‘Mr Harvey has been asked to engage willingly in sensitivity and anti-harassment training among other requirements.’

Magnum has also set up an ‘independent speak-up hotline with Safecall’, a whistleblowing reporting company, and ‘Magnum’s policies regarding conduct and acceptable behaviour are being further strengthened’.

Separate accusations were brought against Harvey and Magnum just prior to the August allegations, when a series of 1989 Bangkok sex worker photos were tagged to suggest the subjects, some of whom were naked, were underage. Harvey denied the subjects were underage, and Magnum stated it was merely a tagging error. Harvey’s suspension has no relation to this incident, according to Magnum.

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