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Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Sean, Apr 2, 2003.
It makes you wonder how much this goes on. These guys are in a highly competitive field where they'll do whatever it takes to "get the shot".
Altered pics are as old as photography. Even before the advent of Photoshop and other digital wizardry pictures used to be retouched to suit the taste of the powers that be. Troops attacking were always pictured as advancing from left to right suggesting progress and success. Nothing new under the sun.
I think his firing is a good thing. It maybe will send the message that misrepresenting new coverage might not be tolerated. In this case it was pretty irrelevant to any message, but was done for aesthetic reasons.
Photographs and especially news photographs of a war are powerful images and often carry an indelible message. Any manipulation of this should not be tolerated. Time magazines cover of OJ Simpson making him look dark and evil
(although to some he is dark and evil) was highly criticized and the photographer or art director said that they considered it an illustration so it was ok. Nobody agreed with them and Time later apologised. An illustration or artwork is allowed this point of view but a photograph is not supposed to lie.
I agree that in the past news photographs have been messed with but with photoshop it is a pretty flawless process and I think his firing sends a good messsage. If you can't take a great news photograph get another job.
Just my opinion
It's the digital mentality.
I am so sick of the slant, bias and manipulation of the message of the broadcast and print media that the alteration of news photographs to misrepresent the reality of important events is an extremely sore spot for me.
If he has so little regard for accurately representing the truth, get him out of the "legitimate [lol]" news. He has a fine career ahead of him grafting celebrity photos together for the supermarket tabloids. His life as a credible photojournalist are over.
</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Flotsam @ Apr 2 2003, 08:50 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>I am so sick of the slant, bias and manipulation of the message of the broadcast and print media that the alteration of news photographs to misrepresent the reality of important events is an extremely sore spot for me.</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
I, too, have HAD it!!
Over the last two or three weeks there has been so much blatant propaganda - a GREAT deal of it self-contradictory, and in defiance of all logic, that I am over-saturated. I'm to the point where I don't even want to hear about it any more.
Whatever your sentiments are about this "war", it is just about impossible to form any sort of intelligent opinion from the news that we are finally ALLOWED to hear.
What is this ... "We can't HANDLE the truth"?
</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Ed Sukach @ Apr 3 2003, 07:05 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
What is this ... "We can't HANDLE the truth"?</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
BBCWorld did a piece on how the media in the middle east was covering things. It didn't take too much reading between the lines to understand they had been sanitizing the news so we didn't get upset. OTOH the new services in the middle east would tend to go to the other extreme and let the viewer see everything. Personally I'd rather make up my own mind.
I'm about 2/3rds the way through "Shutterbabe" by Deborah Kogan. Boy, if you ever considered a career in photojournalism, this book would make you think twice. I bought it because I was interested in her contraversy with James Nachtwey surrounding who uncovered the story concerning the conditions in the Romanian ophanages, immediately post Communist rule.
In part of her book, she claims instances in Afganistan where photographers captioned photos to indicate they were of battles between Afganis and departing Russian troops, when, if fact, they were staged live fire exercises conducted soley to produce pictures.
Digital certainly makes it easier to manipulate reality and you don't have an original neg to go back to in the event of a question. "What is Truth?" becomes more than a question in a Socratic dialogue; it becomes a very literal question. The photographer in question crossed the line and the punishment was appropriate.
The other downside to digital is obviously longevity. How many of these images will be around in 50 years?
And not to ignore the import of the war - I hope our service casulties and those of the Iraqi civilians are minimal and that the war ends up being for something - somewhat trivally, I wonder if some photojournalists are carrying cameras with Tri-x for a more traditional rendering of events, or has the torch really been passed and all we'll see is digital color on CNN.com?
The movie "Under Fire" with Nick Nolte deals with the subject of ethics and responsibilities of journalists and specifically a photo journalist. It takes place in war-torn Nicaragua during the revolutionary overthrow of the Samoza regime. A very entertaining and thoughtful treatment, definitely worth renting especially while considering this topic.
It's a great book. That opening scene, where she's in Afghanistan, really sets up the whole story very well.
As for the LA Times thing...YIKES! How many publications would either not have the policy, or not really enforce it?
I read a story in some magazine about a news photographer who was feeling a lot of guilt after years over covering stories like Israeli/Palestinian conflicts and Northern Ireland. I think it was a she, but not certain. But she said that the combatants would essentially wait until the media showed up and set up, then they would perform for the camera. Almost like everything was scripted. The Palestinians would not perform until the cameras were there. Then they would have their demonstrations with all the ferver they could muster, then when the media got what they needed, they would all go home. She said it was orchestrated by whichever faction and it was all done for the cameras. She said she started to feel manipulated. (How do you think we feel) This is much like the so called spontaneous demonstrations in Iran, as well as Pakistan.
The thing that she said really got to her were the young male Palestinians who would wait until she and the rest of the media were set up and then they would attack a Israeli tank with rocks and bricks trying to get a response and when the Israeli's shot them, they could be declared martyrs for the cause.
She said it made her sick and she was considering quitting the news business because of it. She felt that if the media wasn't there al lot of this stuff wouldn't happen.
It reminds me of when Martin Sheen and other celebrities used to go out to the Nevada desert outside of Las Vegas on Mothers Day for the annual protest against nuclear testing. I covered this once and was astonished at how it all worked.
There were areas set up outside the gates selling tie dyed t shirts and other 60s radical stuff on tables and makeshift booths. There were a few hundred people and it had a carnival atmosphere. At noon Sheen and the other celebs would showup. On the other side of the fence the military brought in maybe fifty troops and a few buses with bars on the windows. The demonstration leaders would welcome everybody and ask them to get in line. The cameras started rolling from the local ABC,CBS,NBC affiliates and it would begin.
The demonstrators would start their chants and proceed to cross through one of the gates. The military would then handcuff them in plastic cuffs and lead them to the buses. When they had all been detained and loaded up into the buses the buses were driven down the road with the cameras rolling and it being announced that they were all going to jail. Only the buses went a mile down the road to a parking lot and the demonstrators were all released. Then everyone went home.
The whole thing was an orchestrated sham for the media. Both the military and the protesters played along and have done so for something like 15 years.
It was an eye opening experience for me.
I have been in many "hotspots" over the years and it's always a grin to see the CPN (Constant Propaganda Network) show up and have this instant demonstation at their end of the street. The rest of the street that was out of camera range was nice and peaceful, people just standing around and watching. Once they left and did their editing you would have thought there was a major insurrection going on.
IMHO there is a lot of violence created just by virtue of the fact that news media is present.
Now getting back on topic, is it really all that different when a news outlet heavily edits video to support their particular editorial slant? If you think the news you see on TV is unbiased your living in a bubble. What they are doing is not that much different than what that photographer did combining two photos to make more of an impact.
It's all about money and greed. Period. And it kills me when they use the tag line "the news you can trust" or some such tripe.
Here's more detail and a balanced treatment of the story from DigitalJournalist.org.
I agree except that the TV news is just so much fodder and only a moron believes otherwise. However a photograph can have a life of its own. It has the possibility of leaving the realm of a newpaper or newsmagazine and essentially becomes a piece of art.
It can be the definitive statement of a war, an era or even a generation. Therefore I think it has a more serious consequence if it is altered.
I know what you mean Mike. The images of the Democratic Convention Riot, and the Kent State shooting forever changed the way I looked at a lot of things.
With regards to the photographer in question I think he should be given another chance. The image he wanted probably actually happened just as he pictured it, but with all the digital lag these cameras have he probably missed it between frames. While not condoning his actions, I can certainly understand his frustration.
You Canadians. So cynical and forgiving at the same time. What a country.
My biggest question here is, "Is there a place for slightly altered pictures that are labeled as such?"
I agree that what he did in reporting the news was wrong, but is there a place where such a picture, suitably labeled, has a home? Although I like the altered picture better, it isn't what really happened. It has a different "look and feel" to it. I think it is more along the line of digital art than a photograph.
The problem becomes what is "slightly"? The other thing is does the newspaper risk losing any credibiltiy it might have? Look we know photos get selected,cropped etc. We know stories get chosen. They get edited. So nobody believes anything is 100% virtusos but some place a line must exist.
Getting back to your question. Yes a place exists. It isn't in a newspaper. It could be in any number of other publications but not a paper. Two cents.
</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Robert @ Apr 8 2003, 03:24 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> Getting back to your question. Yes a place exists. It isn't in a newspaper. It could be in any number of other publications but not a paper. Two cents. </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
I agree to the "not a newspaper". I would go farther and say, "not any news publication (Time, Life, Newsweek, The Economist, etc.).
But where is it acceptable? National Geographic (I can't see them doing it, but would it be OK there?)? Air and Space? Aviation Week?
I'm not sure where it would be appropriate but I think some kind of labeling standard would need to be developed.
I think Gursky uses multiple exposure to increase the density of crowds and to create color patterns. His work is appropriate to art venues like galleries and museums. It's not presented as "documentary," so anything is fair game. The visual effect comes first.
If the _LA Times_ photo were part of an exhibit at a modern art gallery called "Stagings of Violence" or "Dangerous Compositions," where it was understood that the photographer was creating semi-fictional scenes to tell a dramatic story, then it would be unobjectionable.
I'm not sure where it should be presented but I think digital photo manipulations should not be called photographs.
There needs to be labelling or definition in the media and among photographers of what is a pure photograph and what manipulation is allowed( cropping, burning/dodging,etc) to keep it as a photograph.
Digital photo manipulations should then be labelled as photo/illustrations or some other name so that there will be no confusion on which is which.
I will start a new subject on this and see what others think.