Sunday, April 17, 2011

Photojournalism losing credibility due to 'doctored up' photos?


As a student in the online journalism sequence, I am constantly aware and prone to peers and fellow web writers who publish pieces that may or may not be 100% fact, just to gain popularity and internet recognition. Journalists hold on to an ethical code that is sacred to the tradition of the field, but lately, the morals of both writers and photographers seem to be falling through the cracks.
The art of photojournalism is losing its credibility in the eyes of readers to due the increase in photo alteration and distortion. Photojournalists around the country are doctoring their pictures in order to improve the images, but secretly, I believe, to give fame to their name. John Long, chairman of the ethics and standards committee of the National Press Photographers Association, and mentioned in the article "Distorted Picture", by Sherry Ricchiardi, stated that this "problem is far greater than we fear," and points out that some photos are distorted for the pure intent of doing harm.
What I don't understand is why some photojournalists succumb to photoshop and other photo altering programs in order to drastically change their images; what has become of the field of journalism? Why are veterans of the craft lying to readers? Is it to gain fame and fortune from one good (fabricated) photo?
Top newspapers from the L.A. Times to the Toledo Blade have fired employees for distorting images that have been published throughout the entire country. But what scares most photojournalists and editors is that some photo-j's don't even see the harm in altering pictures. Has journalism ethics completely gone down the drain?
Along with photojournalism, broadcast television and radio stations have been misleading their viewers with reenactments. News and radio stations have been using reenactments and airing them as "live" or "unrehearsed" events in order to gain viewership and stardom. In "Viewer Beware," Deborah Potter writes that stations have a duty to label what is fact and fiction, and that the phrase "seeing is believing" can no longer be used for broadcast journalism.
Producers, writers, editors and photographers all have one goal: to write and shoot what they see in order to inform the public on the happenings around the world. But with all of the distortion and altering's of photos, articles and TV clips, viewers and readers are beginning to gain a mistrust in journalism. Those who rely on stories and photographs are being mislead, and will soon trust no media outlet to give them the news they need.
Bob DeMay, chairman of the board of Ohio News Photographers Association in the "Distorted Picture" article said, "There used to be an old saying, 'Pictures don't lie.' Well, they do now." Clearly, journalists around the world need a brush up on their ethics.

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