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Original Issue

Setting the Record Straight

At first glance, a photo that ran in the New York Times (above tight) and a number of other newspapers nearly three weeks ago shows Mike Powell eclipsing Bob Beamon's long jump mark in Tokyo. There's Powell, head up, arms pumping as he supposedly flies toward his 29'4½" record.

But Powell set his record on his fifth attempt, and the photo in question actually shows his sixth and final jump of the day, in which he fouled. The photo had been transmitted by the Reuters news agency bearing a caption that described the record fifth jump and, in a second sentence, identified the photo as depicting the sixth jump. "If papers want to imply that it was the world-record jump, that's their business," says Jonathan Bainbridge, a photo editor with Reuters in London. "Our caption was correct." The Times later published a correction.

Questions have also been raised about a photo the Associated Press identified as Powell's record jump. That image, which received heavy play in newspapers and also ran in TIME magazine, pictured Powell head-on as, grimacing, he came in for a landing. But the AP photo appears to have been taken at almost the same instant as a shot of Powell's second attempt that appeared on the contents page of the Sept. 9 issue of SI. AP insists that its picture was of the record attempt. To confuse matters further, the SI contents-page photo, as well as the magazine's cover shot (above left)—which is assuredly of the record jump—were both taken by a photographer for the Allsport agency whose name is Mike Powell.