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Photo Manipulation in the Media

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Jeremy Wittig

on 2 May 2010

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Transcript of Photo Manipulation in the Media

Photo Manipulation in the Media
Doctoring photographs has been around almost as long as photography itself, but as digital imaging hardware and software has both advanced and come down in price, the practice of digital image manipulation has become much more common and harder to detect.

Digital photo manipulation, commonly referred to as "photoshopping," has recently become a popular pastime, and many consider this photographic fakery to be a new form of art.

But when it works its way into photojournalism and the media, the issue of ethics comes to the forefront.

How far can we take digital image manipulation and still maintain photographic integrity? Generally Allowed:
Brightness/contrast control
Burning & dodging to control tonal range
Color correction
Cropping a frame to fit the layout
Retouching of dust & scratches

Never Allowed:
Adding, moving, or removing objects within the frame
Color change other than to restore what the subject looked like
Cropping a frame in order to alter its meaning
Flopping a photograph (left/right reversal) Webster University Journal
Policy for the Ethical Use of Photographs
In controversial magazine cover image, Martha Stewart's head was placed on top of the body of a slimmer model who had been photographed separately in a studio.

In 2005, Newsweek magazine placed the image on the cover of its magazine after Stewart was released from prison, was used to highlight the many pounds she had lost Bloggers were the first to notice that the clouds in an image taken by Adnan Hajj, a Lebanese photographer, had been darkened.

Soon after, Reuters issued an apology and said it withdrew from its database all of the images taken by Hajj. "There is no graver breach of Reuters standards for our photographers than the deliberate manipulation of an image," Tom Szlukovenyi, Reuters Global Picture Editor, said at the time. "Reuters has zero-tolerance for any doctoring of pictures and constantly reminds its photographers, both staff and freelance, of this strict and unalterable policy." Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
Do not stage photos. Be complete and provide context when photographing or recording subjects. Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one's own biases in the work.
Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.
While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.
Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images' content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.

The National Press Photographers Association, or NPPA, states that those who manage visual news productions are accountable for upholding the following standards: As long as the media prints photographs and presents them to the public as truth, the extent to which they are manipulated should be strictly regulated.

I feel that every publication should have a code of ethics for photo manipulation in the present day media. If magazines and newspapers continue to alter their images, even if it’s something as harmless and making Martha Stewart skinnier, the general public will begin to question everything they see in the news, and the credibility of news publications will diminish significantly. In August 2006, the Associated Press had to pull a photo when an editor added an extra set of hands on an Alaskan oil pipeline worker.

The photo captured a BP employee scanning a section of pipeline that had leaked 200,000 gallons of oil earlier that year. An editing error apparently gave the worker four hands instead of two. Time magazine's decided to darken the color of O.J. Simpson's skin on the cover of its June 1994 issue.

The magazine took the mug shot of Simpson when he was arrested and tweaked it before putting it on the cover. It was caught because Newsweek published an unadulterated version of the photo around the same time.

John Long stated, "O.J. was interesting because it was one that caught everyone's attention, he said. "It was the beginning of the public discussion." "For news, it's just, you don't do it. It has to be that simple. It comes down to it's just not right to lie to the public."

He said each time a news organization is caught manipulating images, it decreases the credibility of the entire industry in the eyes of the public. John Long, former president of the National Press Photographers Association and now the group's ethics chairman, states: Another ethically-questionable image was featured on the cover of an August 1989 TV Guide.

The picture combined the head of Oprah Winfrey and the body of actress Ann-Margret, taken from a 1979 photograph.

The photograph was created without the permission of Winfrey or Ann-Margret and was detected when Ann-Margret's fashion designer recognized the dress, according to Hany Farid, a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College who studies imagery manipulation. original
photoshopped In June 2008, a number of news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, BBC News and the New York Times, unknowingly ran an image of Iran's missile tests that included one missile too many.

An image showing four missiles was distributed by Agence France-Presse (AFP), which said that it received the image from the Web site of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's media division. Later, however, The Associated Press distributed a similar image that included only three missiles.

This photo seems to be of General Ulysses S. Grant in front of his troops at City Point, Virginia, during the American Civil War.

Some very nice detective work by researchers at the Library of Congress revealed that this print is a composite of three separate prints:

(1) the head in this photo is taken from a portrait of Grant
(2) the horse and body are those of Major General Alexander M. McCook
(3) the backgoround is of Confederate prisoners captured at the battle of Fisher's Hill, VA. This nearly iconic portrait of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is a composite of Lincoln's head and the Southern politician John Calhoun's body. In this photo by famed photographer Mathew Brady, General Sherman is seen posing with his Generals. General Francis P. Blair (far right) was added to the original photograph. In this doctored photo of Queen Elizabeth and Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King in Banff, Alberta, King George VI was removed from the original photograph. This photo was used on an election poster for the Prime Minister. It is thought that the Prime Minister had the photo altered because a photo of just him and the Queen painted him in a more powerful light. In order to create a more heroic portrait of himself, Benito Mussolini had the horse handler removed from the original photograph
Thomas Aquinas focuses on human ends and actions. He expresses that our actions and purpose are directly related to our happiness. It is our duty to live in harmony with one another. This being said, it is the duty of the people involved with the media, to provide the truth.

Thomas Hobbes would suggest that the ethical questions are all relative. It is relative to the context, situation, and emotional state. The idea for right is nothing but situational. The ethics of photo manipulation can be determined by the situation of the manipulation, as well as the obligation we have as people in society.

Niccolo Machiavelli's Means-and-ends philosophy states that the result or end of an action or a behavior is paramount, and one need not be concerned about how one arrived at the result.” In other words, one can do bad to ultimately achieve good (Leslie 63). In this case, the bad may be altering photos, but by altering the photos, it is justified if it results in good.

The National Press Photographers Association stated:

"People don't look at pictures as though they were historical documents but as things that they want them to be," he said. "It's so easy, it's so pervasive, that the nature of photography has become liquid. And that is a very big threat to what we do in the news business, which is to try to document reality in pictures that are accurate. Once the accuracy goes, we have nothing left to offer."
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