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Dual image format for full journalistic disclosure
With Photoshop in common use among professional photographers, some controversy has arisen over how much, and what kind, of alteration a photojournalist can ethically make to an image.
Practices such as cropping, shrinking and compressing are widely accepted, but image processing that changes the
appearance of the image is more questionable. Adjustments to brightness, contrast and white balance can improve the esthetics or clarity of a picture, but some people may consider them to be deceitful.
It will probably be some time before universal rules of how Photoshop and similar software can be used in reporting the news. Until then, I propose Phootnote, a new image format for use on news websites.
A file in the Phootnote format contains two images: the unaltered raw image, and the post-processing image. The raw image may be cropped, compressed, and shrunk but no other alteration is permitted*. The post-processing image may be altered in whatever way the editors of the news organization deem appropriate.
By default, the viewers web browser would show the post-processing image, but the viewer can obtain the raw image by right-clicking on the image. This will allow anyone to judge the veracity a picture quickly and easily.
(Note that this format would be used on a voluntary basis by news organizations interested in reporting the news truthfully and accurately, while preserving the ability of photojournalists to produce high-quality images.)
*A possible exception would be obscuring the identity of anonymous subjects.
[AO, Oct 04 2004]
Charlotte Observer: "Observer photographer loses awards"
"The board ruled that Schneider had altered the editorial content of some photos he entered by overly darkening some portions in the digital editing process." [bristolz, Oct 04 2004]
Ars Technica: LA Times photographer fired for altering Iraq war photo
[bristolz, Oct 04 2004]
A lot of people
[Fussass, Oct 04 2004]
||I dunno. This sort of thing tends to take care of itself quite well. If any one source goes out of bounds, there are others waiting to point it out.
||No fishbone, but I don't think there's much of a problem there.
||I dont know if it does take care of itself. The case of Time darkening OJ Simpsons mug shot was evident because Newsweek published the same picture unaltered. But how would we know if and how a photograph has been altered if its exclusive to one publication?
||I wasn't aware that Newsweek ran the same picture. I did read a news article about Time's treatment of that photograph, though. Personally I didn't think it was any big deal.
||There was a recent case of a 'composed' photo taken during the Iraq war - I'll see if I can find something on it. The photog had taken two shots and melded them together for a better composition, was his excuse. The problem was he did not notice that, due to his edit, the same person appeared twice in the picture.
||Mostly no one notices. What about the cropping? What about which way we point the camera? What about picking the single right shot out of a pile? People are happy when they are seeing what they want to see; and journalists like everyone need to get paid. Would you want us all to be unhappy?
For the Photoshop savvy ones, have a look at the picture in the link. This was in a respectable newspaper.