Newsweek - Doctored photo

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by mgb74, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    The latest issue of Newsweek has a doctored cover photo of Princess Diana and Kate Middleton; altered to make it look like they are together. Their cover story was a comparison of the 2; they could have done a cover with 2 photos, not 1 altered one.

    I also noticed a doctored photo in a prior issue where they were calling attention to a wrist band worn by several celebrities. The photos were b/w; the wristbands were red (must be a new type of film I'm not aware of).

    There's been public criticism of the photo and accompanying article (I haven't read the article yet), but surprisingly little criticism of the basic ethics (or lack of) of altering a photo.

    We are long time subscribers to Newsweek. The new owners have reduced it to little more than Entertainment Weekly. A sad end to a once great magazine.
     
  2. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    I thought is was kinda sad and pandering to be on Newsweek's cover.
    People... sure it would have worked but Newsweek?
     
  3. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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    It depends. With photo illustrations pretty much anything goes as long as it is presented as such. This is rather tasteless though.
     
  4. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Everybody's doing it. Not because they should, but because they can. I saw that Newsweek cover myself and didn't like it either. Not because of the story's premise, but because of the lack of ethics displayed on the cover. Did these guys sleep through Journalistic Responsibilities 101 in school?

    Another example?

    The defining hallmark of Sports Illustrated was once its photography. No longer. In this digital age I have no idea what's real and what isn't. Sports Illustrated routinely doctors its photos, places them on the cover, then places tiny, tiny "expanations" seemingly hidden in obscure corners somewhere in the first few pages. These covers and I do not get along well.

    Used to be that extraordinarily talented photojournalists were able to catch transcendent moments which became icons. Think Neil Leifer's Cassius Clay snarling down at the dazed Sonny Liston on his back. Now its all just over-Photoshopped eye candy for an audience that no longer cares.

    These days I continue my SI subscription only for the writing. Don't think I'll be subscribing to Newsweek at all.

    Ken
     
  5. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    Newsweek...wasn't that the magazine that teetered on the brink of extinction recently?

    Desperation, I'd reckon. A very tasteless form of desperation.
     
  6. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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    Again, it depends on the intended purpose and how it is presented. I do agree that it has gotten out of hand though. Photo-Illustrations are a slippery slope of what is acceptable.
     
  7. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    I think the ethics argument is silly unless the photographer or publication tries to pass it off as real. The Cover was made to sell magazines and to make people think about "what if"... which is valid and the point of the story... Not something I would read, but still a valid point of view. They did nothing ethically wrong in my opinion, and the "Princes" might be upset at seeing the photo, but they are in the public eye and honestly probably expected this sort of thing.
     
  8. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Tina Brown defends photoshopping Princess Di onto Newsweek cover
    By Dylan Stableford, The Cutline, June 29, 2011
    (Cover illustration included)

    "This is completely offensive and inappropriate... Newsweek truly needs to learn about ethics and morals."

    "Newsweek now competes with the National Enquirer... who would have thought?"

    "This whole piece is sick and wrong... If I want this sort of trash, I'll go buy the National Enquirer. If I want what Newsweek used to be, I'll subscribe to Time."

    "Morbid, distasteful, and beyond tacky."

    Ken
     
  9. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    "There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary." Brendan Behan
     
  10. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    lol the light is completely different on Diana than what is on Middleton.
    looks like a stock shot of Di from Madame Tussauds
    this gives even the layman an uneasy sense when viewing.

    looks like an out take from that crappy PS job website
     
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  11. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    As I recall that shot was pretty heavily cropped for the cover but doesn't lesson it's power (and forgiveable in the age of manual focus fixed lens cameras.)

    I was appalled by a particularly bad cut, paste and PS'd image in a weekend news magazine last Saturday. It was if they didn't care how bad it was provided the lady in the bikini bottom's thighs were perfectly sculpted for supposed maximum attractiveness. Not that I go searching for these things of course. Honestly.

    Are there any papers or magazines which have elevated their standards in recent years? The anti-intellectual, celebrity trawling, lowest common denominator movement seems to know no end. Thanks Rupert!
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    By commonly-accepted journalistic standards, such manipulations are supposed to be labeled as "illustrations," not photographs. I wonder what the photo credit says. And Newsweek is largely a news-feature magazine, not a hard news one. I don't like it either, but it is fully expected given the format.

    And before we go proclaiming the death of print journalism quality because of what appears in a soft news supermarket rag, I've got to say that you wouldn't see such a thing purposefully put into a hard news publication, such as your local big-city newspaper. Fakery makes it in from time to time, but not with the editor's intent in any recent case I can remember.
     
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  13. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    I believe you are correct. I also seem to recall that it's a Kodachrome, but I could be wrong.

    Ken
     
  14. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    I don't think the problem is in the altering of the photo, which given the fact that the underlying historical circumstances are presumed to be known to anybody, I see as a legitimate montage to illustrate an article rather than an attempt to make a fake.

    I only find that the article itself is just distilled nonsense for the kind of magazine where it appeared. You can "reposition" a magazine somehow, but not betray its spirit entirely as you will instantly lose your readers, and you will slowly search for new readers in another socio-cultural layer of society, where the Newsweek brand does not necessarily resonate.

    It's as if Deutsche Grammophon tried to reposition itself as a brand for pop music, or as if McGraw-Hill tried to reposition themselves as fiction publishers.
     
  15. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    Because of this post, I happened to notice the magazine at B&N yesterday, and had a few minutes to study it while waiting for the cashier. I thought the picture was revolting, tasteless, and about every other negative adjective that I can think of. The paste of Diana was about the least flattering picture I have ever seen of that beautiful woman.

    But after thinking about it and reading comments here, I agree with some others that it is not necessarily unethical. 99% of viewers know these women could not have been photographed together. Newsweek is apparently shifting from the Time genre to the Us/People genre indicating that things presented in the publication cannot be relied on as factual.

    I didn't have time to find out whether the fact that the cover was a montage was revealed in the magazine, and I certainly was not going to purchase it to find out.
     
  16. BrianL

    BrianL Member

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    Initial reaction was it is insulting to the family, belittling to Camille (regardless of how you feel about her) and Charles, demeaning, misrepresentation and in poor taste regarding the royal family.
     
  17. billbretz

    billbretz Member

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    Are you just talking about SI or photojournalism in general? In either case, it's a very broad generalization.

    There is more powerful photojournalism being created today than in any era previously, it's just not being printed in big glossy magazine with circulations counted by the million.
     
  18. bblhed

    bblhed Member

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    If they were trying to compare and contrast the two women then two separate photos of them at the same age and in similar poses with similar lighting placed side by side and altered only by cropping so that the two women were the same scale would be the tasteful way to go. That train wreck of a photoshop job looks like something that a high school kid would have done for their personal web site dedicated to the royal women, they may as well have added the Queen into the photo to finish off the tackiness. Also why didn't they remove everyone else from the photo? Beyond the tasteless aspect of the photo, what does a shoddy cover photo like that say about the work inside the magazine?
     
  19. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    Newsweek still claims to be a news magazine; doctoring an image should be taboo. They could easily have done the side by side photos as bblhed suggests. I don't think it matters that the vast majority of readers know that it's manipulated; it's a matter of principle and journalistic ethics (IMO).
     
  20. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Journalistic ethics and principles simply state that photo manipulations be labeled as such, not that they are completely off limits. Ethics and principles are about what is right and what is wrong. In journalism, "right" means, in the most general sense, accurately depicting things for what they are – telling the truth to the best of one's ability. A photo should be called a photo, and a photo illustration should be called a photo illustration. Journalistic ethics and principles say to call a spade a spade, in other words.

    Journalistic standards dictate that such a photo not be used in a prominent place by a hard news publication. Standards are about what is commonly accepted in the industry and what is not. They aren't really about right and wrong directly, per se.

    So, if it was labeled as an illustration, then it is not unethical. It would just be a display of poor standards for a hard news publication. But I think that Newsweek cannot be considered a hard news publication anyhow. This simply does more to cement that viewpoint for me.
     
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  21. ambaker

    ambaker Subscriber

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    It is well known that Diana is deceased. So I don't really see it as an ethic question, any more than an image of dinosaur. (Not that I am saying she is one.). However, I do not see the point in a "news" magazine. People, or any other lifestyle mag, yes. Newsweek, no.

    PS: what do you have against SI? The annual bathing suit issue is one of the finest sporting traditions ever! ;-)