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Photo Manipulation

In: Social Issues

Submitted By pynkladii22
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Photo manipulation is the function of image editing techniques to photographs in order to create an illusion or deception through analog or digital means. Its uses, cultural impact, and ethical concerns have made it a subject of interest beyond the technical process and skills involved (Wikepedia). Photo manipulation has been regularly used to deceive or persuade viewers, or for improved story-telling and self-expression. As early as the American Civil War, photographs were published as engravings based on more than one negative (Wikeepedia). I believe that for the sake of representing honest and accurate information, the digital editor should avoid anything that will change the actual event or scene as it was captured by the camera. This includes adding, removing or moving objects in such a way that the context of the event is altered. The digital image editor should be careful to let the photos speak for themselves. So I don’t think it's permissible to alter any aspect of place or time. Since the 1940s political leaders from around the world have been gathering in New York City at the United Nations headquarters to discuss and maintain international peace and security, to safeguard human rights, to promote social and economic progress, to improve living standards, and fight diseases. The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress and human rights issues (Wikepedia). In early September 2000, Fidel Castro and Bill Clinton attended a lunch for the roughly 150 world leaders taking part in the UN summit. They were making their way to a conference room for a group photograph when an encounter took place. Cuban President Fidel Castro spoke for the first time with his US counterpart Bill Clinton and shook his hand. Diplomats and other observers believed it was also the first time since Castro took power in 1959 that the Cuban leader had shaken the hand of an American president. In November 2000, the Daily News ran a cover story about the encounter entitled ‘All Shook Up’. The cover displayed Former President Clinton and Cuban Leader Fidel Castro in the process of shaking hands. Both leaders’ hands are extended towards one another and they appear to be jovial. Fidel Castro did approach Bill Clinton and shake his hand but there were no cameras present which means that the Daily News faked the photo. People who were present at UN summit explained it as a chance encounter. Witnesses said that Clinton and Castro spoke for a few minutes. They also said the two had a cordial conversation but there was no substance. Even though, the Daily News didn’t completely create a false situation of Castro and Clinton meeting, they mislead their readers by running the photo on the cover of the newspaper. I believe that an exceptional photo journalist is honest and exact and if they aren’t there at the right time then they just weren’t meant to get that shot. By creating phony images of events and situations that weren’t captured, you are only betraying your viewers who rely on your paper for the truth. Misinforming your audience can create a domino effect of troublesome situations. Some of the readers of the Daily News could have been anti-Castro activists. This kind of photo could outrage hundreds of people and create mixed sentiment towards the former president. Many anti-Castro activists believe Fidel Castro to be a murderous dictator and a photo like this could depict Clinton to be tolerable of Castro’s actions. A lot of readers may take this kind of photo as another exercise in poor judgment on the part of Bill Clinton.
The Daily News also slightly damaged it’s credibility by placing this photograph on the cover of the paper. Once readers realize that this is a spurious photo they may begin to think that the newspaper has lied about countless things. They may begin to second guess every article and photo in the newspaper. Readers could become infuriated with the editor for allowing such fraudulent behavior to occur. If the Daily News wasn’t resourceful enough to have multiple photographers covering the UN summit event, then it just didn’t deserve the shot. Condescending to a level as low as publishing fake photos demonstrates to me the true character of someone, or in this case a newspaper. Newspapers are supposed to contain the news and important information. If I have to be concerned about something as simple as a photograph, what can I really trust in the newspaper?
Generally speaking, the meeting between Castro and Clinton did take place at the United Nations summit meeting. But, this does not mean that a newspaper can swindle its audience and create a manipulated situation. In this case, the end does justify the means because the paper was trying to illustrate a momentous moment. But, that is exactly what the Daily News exemplified, photo illustration. It is unproblematic to look at the photo and notice that the two have been digitally placed together. They both have different expressions on their faces and their hands look as though they are demonstrating distinct hand shakes. It just doesn’t seem like a photo that naturally took place.
In conclusion, I believe that photojournalism is respectable up until the extent at which photojournalists digitally edit photos. Photojournalism is the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast that creates images in order to tell a news story (Wikepedia). I consider photojournalism an immoral thing when it crosses the line of what is real and what is fake. Staging a photo is a respectable act of photojournalism. In contrast, digitally altering a photo and placing two men like Castro and Clinton in a photo together to me is contrite. Newspapers and photojournalists must acquire a balance of truth and ethics.

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