This week homepage producer Rochelle Nolan interviews Steven Hutcheon (Digital Editor of SMS and The Age online) about digitally manipulating images. It is ethically unacceptable for journalists to manipulate images, but in an age of citizen journalism propelled by advancements in communications technology, even the best journalists can be fooled by a photo someone sends in that appears untouched but has in fact been manipulated.
Many news services take advantage of technology and invite citizens to send in their own photographs or footage of events. This can be really helpful for news teams (think mobile phone footage captured in the London bombings where news teams were able to broadcast footage their crews wouldn't have been able to access) but it can also prove disastrous.
Technology such as Adobe Photoshop and other image alteration programs are now so advanced it's easy to change photos in so many ways, and not be able to tell at all.
Steven suggests there seems to be one set of rules for news journalists and another set of rules for the people who design fashion magazine covers and apply digital manipulation technology in order to create a sort of 'preferred reality'. Steven also says people can use this technology in their own personal photo collection to create their own preferred reality.
There is no current code of ethics or guidelines in place specifically dealing with image alteration.
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