Photo Ethics Elude USA Today

October 26th, 2005 1:10 PM
Michelle Malkin busts the photo editor of USA Today for manipulating a photo of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in a way that makes Dr. Rice look just a wee bit possessed.

As she notes, Richard Curtis is USAT's Graphics and Photos Managing Editor, and while I don't know if he directly had a hand in deciding to run the doctored photo, he is ultimately responsible for a manipulation that would appear to be a violation of most people's concept of photo ethics (If you have a problem seeing this ethics violation, slap a pair of Linda Blair eyes on Hillary Clinton or Jesse Jackson and you should be able to suddenly see it clearly). What are responsible photo ethics? When is it acceptable to manipulate photos, and to what extent? Fred Showker at 60 Second Window has a wonderful practical guide for photo ethics, which defines in part what acceptable photo ethics entail:

editing procedures are allowed to compensate for limitations and defects inherent in the digital photographic process. However, the editor must be diligent to protect the photo's true-to-life accuracy.
And isn't:
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 must be careful to let the photos speak for themselves. So it's not permissible to alter any aspect of place or time -- like removing wrinkles or gray hair. Additionally they should never enhance or distract from the apparent quality or desirability of a subject, or the aesthetics of a place.
It is quite clear that USA Today violated these guidelines, creating an image that was a misleading, decidedly negative representation of an individual. The person or persons who directly manipulated this photo and the person who allowed it to run should be disciplined, and possibly terminated for a gross and deliberate abuse of journalistic integrity. Now is when we will discover if USA Today is a responsible news organization, or a tabloid. The ball is in your court, Mr. Curtis.

(Cross-posted to Confederate Yankee)