Any folks who have been around longer know of any such cases of alterations when film was king? Pre2000?
This is not a film or digital issue, it's a manipulation of reality issue. Unfortunately, Photoshopping of images -pretty rare as best as can be determined- gets far more attention than act that takes place far more frequently - staging.
Well one of the core issues is that if the photographers are taking it to the level of directly modifying images and inserting things that were never there, they're making it about themselves rather than about the subjects.
On another note if one looks at the bird's reaction when the other bird moves in you'll see that the bird with the frog has recoiled. In no case is the bird with the frog open to the other bird except when it's distant.
No it's not documentary photojournalism but it is nature photojournalism isn't it? Like I said if the photographs are ever used later for research purposes, etc. - they would be intentionally misleading.
This is why even something as simple as a bird photograph should be accurate. I commend the Bee for sticking to the time-tested principles of photojournalism regardless of the subject matter. It's called integrity and these days it's rare.
BTW, here's the Guardian totally missing the point and letting the subject matter dictate integrity:
They also head down the "since it's taken with a camera, nothing is reality" straw-man route as well:
"Elliot was on to something. Further investigation revealed that the Great Satan was a serial Photoshopper, once digitally removing a shadow in a sunflower field and replacing it with a sunflower, another time manipulating small wildfire flames to look like ever-so-less-small wildfire flames. So he was summarily sacked. For, after all, in violation of all that is sacred, had he not deliberately misled the reader by manipulating the image to suit his narrative purposes? Yes, he certainly had.
Exactly like every press photographer does at every newspaper every day and always has. Every photo cropped to eliminate extraneous imagery and every single shot selected from a roll of 24 deliberately portrays time and space to suit a narrative. So does photo processing, depth of field and aperture selection – none of which is neutral. For that matter, every snap represents the photographer's choice to focus on what he or she is focusing on. Manipulation, editing, selective reality: it is the essence of photography. That's what they give out the prizes for (plus luck)."
Journalism 2012: You can manipulate the words of the story in any manner you wish to present the "image" you desire, but it is just unconscionable to alter the photo.
Errol Morris' book called Believing is Seeing addresses these concerns, and the question he brings up... since the picture in the Bee was manipulated, does it really alter the meaning of what the photographer saw and recorded in those few frames?
Personally, I think it's best to draw a line in the sand, despite the very interesting arguments that Morris puts forth, and not manipulate news pictures, or your credibility becomes suspect. Then again, most news and media outlets aren't very credible these days, so the photography departments seem to have become the whipping boy for diminished standards across the board. And agreed with someone above, film can be scanned and manipulated in precisely the same way as these digital image captures were, so I'm not sure how that would make readers believe what they see.