Digital Image Alteration and Photojournalist Ethics in China and USA
Photography is a process where lights are recorded through chemical means(by film) or by an electronic device such as digital sensor. The resulting photograph represents a optically realistic portrait of a specific event at a specific location and time. This connection to reality allows people place a significant amount of trust on photographs and coined the phrase "the camera does not lie." Thus, photographs are used heavily in news reporting as a proof that a certain event has occurred. Recently, news agencies have begin to digitize their photographic process. Using digital photography allows journalists to send their pictures to the editor with faster speed and better reliability than using film. However, digital images are easily modifiable. People or objects may be added, rearranged, reversed, distorted or removed from a scene. Colors and brightness may be adjusted. Pictures can be sharpened or blurred. Yet, when a picture is altered, its link to reality, to that particular event, may be weakened or completely severed. To many people, this is a form of deception by the news agency to the public because people assume that photograph is a faithful representation of an event. In addition, these changes are difficult to detect since there is no physical negatives to inspect. The public can only rely on the news editorial board to perform as they promised-- to uphold journalist integrity and to report facts as accurately as they can While news editors have a duty to report news truthfully ,they also have to deal with publishing constraints. Editors are constantly tempted to alter the picture to fit the layout, deliver pictures with stronger punch, or simply touch up the picture for aesthetic reasons. It is difficult to decide how much digital processing is allowed before the integrity of a story is compromised.. Each editor must draw upon the code of ethics he and the news agency subscribe to as well as the implicit trust people place on viewing a picture.
This paper will discuss how different cultural values affect the journalist ethics on photographic integrity in two different countries-- China and USA.. It also applies the ethical framework to arrive at the conclusion that the ethical model of US news agency, in particular the integrity policy published by national photojournalist association is far more desirable.
Digital Image Alteration and Its Influence on the Viewers
When I saw it, I probably just said, no one is going to know. I don't know. I've tweaked pictures before--taken out a phone pole. It's not a common practice, but you can do it. I can't speak for anyone else, but I imagine they've done it here and there. This was going overboard--taking pictures and putting them together. I think it's just that I wanted a better image. Then when I did it, I didn't even think about it.-- Interview with Brian Walski by Photo District News on...