Photo manipulation has no place in the press

Two cases of photos lying to the reader have surfaced in today’s headlines. Both are clear examples of editors choosing to change the original photo using available electronic tools. Neither photo should have been presented as they were.

The first obviously doctored image ran in Al-Ahram, the state-run newspaper in Egypt. Editors repositioned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to show him leading a procession of world leaders during recent peace talks at the White House. The original image shows Mubarak on the far left of the group, bringing up the rear. President Barack Obama is at the front of the group as they walk.

See the images and a story about the photo manipulation here"

Yahoo news: The Upshot
Egyptian paper doctors photo of Mubarak and Obama

Today’s second example of taking liberties with photo editing software shows actress Gabourey Sidibe on the cover of Elle magazine. The star of the movie " Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire" is shown with what appears to be obviously lightened skin tones.

In a story on Elle defends the cover, saying "nothing out of the ordinary was done" to the photo. This month’s issue of Elle features four different covers. The others show Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried and Lauren Conrad. Their skin tone appears to be normal, because to lighten each of their images to the same degree the photo of Sidibe’s was, you would see only the actresses’ clothes, lips and hair.

See the images and read the story
Gabourey Sidibe Photoshopped on Elle Magazine?

Both instances of doctored photos remind me of the famous Time and Newsweek magazine covers of June 27, 1994, showing the police booking mug shot of O.J. Simpson. The Time photo appears to show Simpson with normal skin tone, while the Newsweek image shows him with noticeably darker skin and looking unshaven.

The photographer that manipulated the photo said he "wanted to make it more artful, more compelling."

See the images and read more about manipulated images:
University of Minnesota site:
Falsification of history

I’m a member of the National Press Photographer’s Association and adhere to its code of ethics:

In 1991 the association adopted an additional code of ethics to address digital manipulation of images.

It reads:
“As journalists we believe the guiding principle of our profession is accuracy; therefore, we believe it is wrong to alter the content of a photograph in any way that deceives the public.

As photojournalists, we have the responsibility to document society and to preserve its images as a matter of historical record. It is clear that the emerging electronic technologies provide new challenges to the integrity of photographic images … in light of this, we the National Press Photographers Association, reaffirm the basis of our ethics: Accurate representation is the benchmark of our profession. We believe photojournalistic guidelines for fair and accurate reporting should be the criteria for judging what may be done electronically to a photograph. Altering the editorial content … is a breach of the ethical standards recognized by the NPPA.”

The bottom line in each case is the truth was manipulated without the reader’s knowledge. Those responsible should be held accountable.

Let’s not give our audience any reason to question the facts, especially those in a photo or video. Save the fancy photo manipulation for adding Uncle Charlie to the family reunion photo.

News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like