The implications of digital technology on photojournalism : LUSENET : Dirck Halstead : One Thread

I am a degree student of photography in Nottingham England compiling a research paper on issues surrounding the use of digital imagery within photojournalism- ethical issues and the problems posed by a public which is increasingly aware and cynical of digital manipulation in the press. If there is anyone who feels that they would like to contribute to this research in absolutely any way, or a fellow student researching a similar subject who would like a chat, any assistance would be gratefully recieved.

-- Paul Howell (, October 07, 1999


Interesting question. I am a staff photographer at a newspaper group in London and as an ethical group of papers we apply some simple rules. If a photograph has it's meaning altered by being manipulated, it must be labelled as such. In short we don't do it. All photographs that go into our papers go through photoshop to optimise colours/contrast and convert to CMYK, so maybe you could say all images are manipulated - but a lot less than we used to do in black and white darkrooms with copious dodging and burning, spotting and bleaching. Newspapers have always used drawings, etchings and diagrams to make a point and properly labelled and captioned manipulated digital images simply slot into this tradition. Readers tend to be a lot more sophisticated than the moralists give them credit for, and as long as images aren't used to deceive then they are o.k. As a photojournalist myself I would rather have pure images used, but this is the real world. As long as real photographs are used when it really matters, then let the manipulators have there fling on less weighty subjects.

-- Neil Turner (, October 12, 1999.

Ya my man I do agree with you, digital technology is going to cost photojournslism more than apartheid did to South Africa. If you were to take a picture with a digital camera, then somewhere down the line there legal problems, how would prove it to the court becouse you do not have the negative, which is the original.

But on the other hand digital technology is excellent in terms of meeting the deadlines. We have to live with it. Sometimes I wish It was only allowed to photojournalism fratenity, because I know we work with the ethics.

By the way I'm also doing a research on photojournalism vs illistration. I have noticed that photojournalists who were photographing violence in the 80s and winning awards are now doing "illustrative photojournlism". By this , I mean they have become illustrator, now it looks like get told to go out and photograph mr somebody , make him smile if he is not smiling.

-- Khaya Ngwnya (, June 14, 2001.

I'm a degree student at the University of Miami (BS Communication, Broadcast Journalism) and I'm also researching this topic for a paper and presentation. I have found some interesting conflicting ethical arguments in regard to the implications of digital manipulation. Underlying all the arguments is the fact (not opinion) that the foundation of photojournalism and other news sources is not only being the public's seeing eye via access to all sorts of information but also a deliverer of truth and accuracy--as close to the truth and reality as any journalist can get. This is, after all, why for the most part we stop at the dailymart and pick up a newspaper, isn't it?

Indeed, digital technology has its tremendous benefits with cutting time formerly dedicated to developing pictures, and with saving money with paper, chemical products and a news manager's luxury to downsize employment cause the responsibilities are executed much easier and faster. But in my eyes, the costs of photomanipulation far outweigh any benefits. For news in general to lose credibility because the public shows increased cynicism and skepticism when viewing photos (and mind you, pictures speak much louder than words) is deadly to this line of work. If photojournalists could just have pride in the pictures they take and not have to worry about how much they can toy with their products. . .i'm not sure, but I think looking at pictures would be alot more enjoyable.

-- Gabriel Leighton (, November 28, 2001.

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