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.