Newspaper Edits Politicians Out Of Bill Signing Photograph; Doesn't Get Why People Think That's Bad

from the it's-news... dept

Romenesko points us to a story of a West Virginia newspaper that photoshopped three politicians out of a bill signing photo that ran with a story about the bill. Here's both the original image and the one that ran:
Even the photographer was shocked that his image was modified in this manner. But what's stunning to me is that the newspaper appears to be defending the decision and not backing down:
[The] reason the delegates were removed was due to the newspaper's policy not to publish pictures of candidates running for re-election during the political season....

In the newspaper, the photo caption includes the term "photo illustration" to indicate the photo had been changed.
This is a newspaper that won't run photos of candidates running for election? It makes you wonder how they report on those elections. With illustrations? And then to claim that it's okay to edit a photograph by then calling it a "photo illustration" rather than a photo that's been edited seems a bit questionable no matter where you stand on the question of journalistic ethics.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 7:57pm

    they could have just put happy faces over them. that would solve the issue and not leave any doubt that the photo had been edited. other than that, does it really matter?

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    abc gum, May 20th, 2010 @ 8:08pm

    Re:

    "does it really matter?"

    ... brought to you by someone who is always harping on others about perceived deceptions

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 8:12pm

    Re: Re:

    think about it. the photo is marked as modified, and it is modified for good reason. incumbent politicians often use the run up time to elections to spread their faces all over the media by having pointless signing events, public appearances "not as a candidate but as your elected official" and generally try to take advantage. a clearly noted "illustration" is a damn good solution, considering the current technology available. the other choice was no photo at all.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 8:17pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Always taking the opposite stance even when that stance is fucking retarded.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 8:20pm

    Not posting photos of politicians running for (re)election is not an unreasonable position for a newspaper to take. That being said, it seems like just skipping the photo entirely would be a far better way to follow their policy than photo-shopping...

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 8:28pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

    It's like you're not even trying anymore.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 8:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Better not link to Wikipedia because our little ac feels Wikipedia is not accurate.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    abc gum, May 20th, 2010 @ 8:32pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "think about it."

    Yeah - I did.
    After this, can they still call themselves a news paper?
    If they were so concerned, then why even publish the photo at all? There are plenty of news stories published without an accompanying photo.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    ant anti mike, May 20th, 2010 @ 8:42pm

    glue time for you

    YET you dont alter the events of the picture to give rise that , the person was not there or did not aid or abet whatever.
    PErhaps a bad cop will edit out a criminals picture you think this too is ok?

     

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  10.  
    icon
    MadderMak (profile), May 20th, 2010 @ 8:58pm

    I read "photographic Illustration" as just another photo.
    How about some of that full-disclosure goodness and a more explicit caption because I sure misunderstood it.

    "Photo of blah... present but not pictured blah, blah" or
    "Photo of Blah (Removed Images: Blah Blah and Blah)

    If they want to photoshop - fine - but the same rules as for editorially edited (what a mouthfull) articles ot text.

    Even a simple "[snip]" tag would do :)

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    George O, May 20th, 2010 @ 9:07pm

    Time Travel

    I think this person is speaking from the year 1984...

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 9:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If we were to link to wikipedia for every fallacy he employs the site would collapse under the traffic.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 9:20pm

    I can understand the rationale about candidate publicity, even though the result is stupid, but it would surely be better to leave out the photo entirely than to doctor it and publish it.

    And no, a vague euphemism with any unknown meaning explains nothing. Can anyone here honestly say that before reading the article they knew that "Photographic Illustration" meant "We shopped the sh** out of this photo"?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Derek, May 20th, 2010 @ 9:27pm

    this is the photographic equivalent of a reporter making up quotes

    Speaking as a photographer, this sort of fakery is absolutely unconscionable. If the only photo the newspaper could get is one that violates its policy, then they can either bend the policy or not run the photo.

    Vague disclaimer notwithstanding, the photo has been doctored to misrepresent reality. While sometimes acceptable in feature/entertainment photography, that sort of deception is a career-ending offense in photojournalism.

    And the policy is meaningless if enforced by subterfuge.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 9:51pm

    From the article:

    "Joel Beeson is a journalism professor at West Virginia University.

    He says such a policy could be difficult for a newsroom to follow.

    “It’s a news photo; it’s not a campaign photo..."

    They are apparently current office holders and should have been left in the picture, re-election efforts not withstanding. It's likely they had something to do with getting the legislation passed, hence their presence. The editors are wrong to do what they did - they're altering a news event to suit their purposes.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 10:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What Wikipedia the home of the C- term paper.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 10:13pm

    Re:

    Aren't most politicians always running for reelection? It is just farther along the calendar.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 11:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    4 posts in a row from mike and his minions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 20th, 2010 @ 11:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I am not Mike nor am I a minion, I just think you're a terrible troll. How is that a photo an illustration?

    "We wanted to illustrate how easy it is to fake reality. It's for journalistic purposes."

     

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  20.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 12:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Look, behind you! It's mike!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    gilroy0 (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 4:23am

    Re: Re: Re:

    the other choice was no photo at all. And that other choice was the right one.

     

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  22.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 4:40am

    Re: Re:

    I'm trying to imagine how you would conduct any election with a media blackout on candidates. Isn't that like blacklisting them effectively? How would you handle a TV debate, or regular pictures of a politician kissing babies/cozying to millionaires? Seems a dumb rule to start with, made dumber by use of phrasing that is unlikely to be clear to the average 'moron in a hurry'.

     

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  23.  
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    Niall (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 4:41am

    Re:

    Stalin would be *so* proud! :)

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Mike, May 21st, 2010 @ 5:24am

    O RLY?

    Seems the real crime here is that they havent fired that graphic designer-- what a lousy job. You couldnt keep the heal tool straight enough to make the lines on the blinds even semi-straight? Next time just try doing a selection box and copying the above part since you obviously dont have the talent to use the heal tool... then maybe next time your modifying images in dumb ways you wont get caught.

    Hell, I get the sense that this paper probably needs a full team of execellent graphic designers-- not just Jim, your editor who dables in Photoshop.

     

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  25.  
    icon
    Steve R. (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 5:25am

    Goldman Sachs Anyone?

    The modification of the picture is simply another unfortunate example of the universal presentation of "facts" (by US companies) that when examined clearly demonstrate that the supposed "facts" really aren't there. In the case of Goldman Sachs: "The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Goldman, Sachs & Co. and one of its vice presidents for defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts about a financial product tied to subprime mortgages as the U.S. housing market was beginning to falter."

    As they say, a picture is worth 1000 words.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Phil, May 21st, 2010 @ 5:33am

    Common Sense -- look in the manual and see if there's a policy on that

    Sigh....
    We live in a country where it is routine to insist that policy, and rules that you made for yourself have tied your own hands -- even when the results are completely inane.

     

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  27.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 5:47am

    No mention at all

    The reason used to exclude the politicians from the photo would also be reason to exclude them in the reporting article. Writing that they participated in the signing of the bill still "advertises" for them. The newspaper editor must be sleeping on a pillow of uranium rods.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Doc, May 21st, 2010 @ 6:00am

    It's like...

    Great Scott Marty!

    It's like they've been erased.... from existance!

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2010 @ 6:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    keep working that story, maybe some of the people here will actually believe you mike. what can i say, except that you cannot shout down reality.

     

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  30.  
    icon
    johnjac (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 6:17am

    Sign of the Times

    When I hope for traditional print media understanding the digital world, I wasn't thinking photoshop.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2010 @ 6:37am

    Is this a new policy that's come about with this picture or has it been there for a while? If it's an old policy, then this isn't news.

    In the article, did they say the politicians were at the signing as well? I can't find the original article, so I can't answer that but if so, this isn't news.

    The news paper said that it was a 'photo illustration' which means the image has been doctored in some way. So they weren't hiding the fact that they did something to it. So, this isn't news.

    If the facts of the article were correct, and the politician's names were including saying they were involved in the signing, then what does it matter that the picture was doctored?

    If the news paper had of used an image that didn't have those 3 politicians in it, would we care? Would it have been posted on this site as some sort of moral outrage? Would it have called into question the level of news being reported by said paper? No, on all counts.

    Stop nit picking and move on.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2010 @ 7:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Aaaaarrrggghhh wher........ Oh!! *ahem* yes very good, I get it. I knew he wasn't there really.... I DID! Honest!!

     

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  33.  
    icon
    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 7:18am

    Sounds familiar...

    This paper should start calling itself the Ministry of Truth.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    ChrisB, May 21st, 2010 @ 7:45am

    Re:

    The news paper said that it was a 'photo illustration' which means the image has been doctored in some way. So they weren't hiding the fact that they did something to it. So, this isn't news.

    Can you please provide a definition of "Photo Illustration" for me please? I do not associate Photo Illustration with reporting factual events. From what I can gather Photo Illustration means making Art out of photos, and I haven't found a definition where it relates to Removing Images from a photo reporting on Factual events.

    If the news paper had of used an image that didn't have those 3 politicians in it, would we care? Would it have been posted on this site as some sort of moral outrage? Would it have called into question the level of news being reported by said paper? No, on all counts.

    Yes, you are correct. By the newspaper creating a fake photograph and using a vague caption with no official or colloquial definition anywhere near news reporting they brought this controversy on to themselves.

     

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  35.  
    icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this board is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2010 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Dodging with conspiracy yet again. How shocking.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    Almost Anonymous (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 10:13am

    Re: It's like...

    Surely the best use of a Back to the Future quote ever!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2010 @ 10:37am

    The newspaper's headline should have read,"what's wrong with this picture?"

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2010 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You also suck at conspiracy. Oh, I get it. Conspiracy, piracy. Ha. Funny joke.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2010 @ 11:36am

    Use of the term "photo illustration" has been recognized for many years now to indicate a photograph that has been modified from its original form.

    I applaud the newspaper in question for properly labeling their use of photo manipulation and question why Techdirt thinks there is a story here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Spanky, May 21st, 2010 @ 11:39am

    re

    You're wrong on this one, Mike. There are two sides to this issue.

    Stuff like this is advertising, with no real purpose. IMHO, if there is one single thing that would reform campaigns, it would be to ban all forms of campaign advertising. Including photo ops like this, which tell you nothing about the candidate or where he stands. Pictures like this are just subtle propaganda.

    Unfortunately, while it may be possible under the Constitution to ban campaign advertising, at least for national office, its probably not possible to ban these photo ops. So I understand the position the newspaper is taking.

    At the same time, its almost always a violation of journalistic ethics for a newspaper to shop any photograph, and its wrong to create this kind of precedent.

    If the paper is going to continue this practice, simply using the term "photo illustration" is far too subtle. I doubt that anyone would understand from that that the photo was shopped. The statement,

    "[The] reason the delegates were removed was due to the newspaper's policy not to publish pictures of candidates running for re-election during the political season.... "

    should be prominently displayed for each such photo. A better solution would be not to publish the photo at all.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2010 @ 11:56am

    Re:

    Why not call it photo manipulation? Seems that is more factually correct.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    papers suck, May 21st, 2010 @ 12:41pm

    I cant believe you used journalistic ethics.
    isn't that an oxymoron

     

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  44.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 12:48pm

    Re:

    Use of the term "photo illustration" has been recognized for many years now to indicate a photograph that has been modified from its original form.

    Clearly, most people don't recognize that as "common" usage. Perhaps in the industry they do, but the average reader of the paper does not.

    But, really, the use of that term is not the issue.

    I applaud the newspaper in question for properly labeling their use of photo manipulation and question why Techdirt thinks there is a story here.

    I dunno, but when the leading media watch site, Romenesko writes about it and various media ethicists weigh in on the practice, it seems pretty clear that an awful lot of people DO think it's a story.

    The question remains about the ethics of modifying a photo, no matter what you call it. I find that to be a story worth writing about.

    You don't, but it's not your site.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 12:49pm

    Re: re

    Stuff like this is advertising, with no real purpose. IMHO, if there is one single thing that would reform campaigns, it would be to ban all forms of campaign advertising. Including photo ops like this, which tell you nothing about the candidate or where he stands. Pictures like this are just subtle propaganda.

    So why not just not publish the story or the photo? Publishing with a doctored photo is the issue.

    Unfortunately, while it may be possible under the Constitution to ban campaign advertising, at least for national office, its probably not possible to ban these photo ops. So I understand the position the newspaper is taking.


    Then they shouldn't write about the candidates. That's no excuse for modifying the photo.

    At the same time, its almost always a violation of journalistic ethics for a newspaper to shop any photograph, and its wrong to create this kind of precedent.

    Er... um... yes, that was the point I was making. Why do you say you disagree?

     

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  46.  
    icon
    Otm Shank (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    incumbent politicians often use the run up time to elections to spread their faces all over the media by having pointless signing events...

    Yes, they do. And if it is not newsworthy, then it should not be reported. Since the paper deemed it newsworthy, part of its newsworthiness is who is in attendance, which could have an impact on how a voter may cast a ballot.

    Photoshopping out the person could be advantageous to an opposing candidate who is too lazy to do public events. It also reports an alternate reality.

    That said, cropping out people has been a time-honored media tradition. That has its own set of ethical dilemmas. That is why PR flacks always tell you to stand in the middle of a posed picture, to minimize the chance of being lopped off the end.

    Methinks there would be different treatment of the photo if the candidate purchased ad space in their birdcage liner--er, newspaper.

     

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  47.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    actually, i seem to remember a few qualified individuals (professors and such) concluding that wikipedia was at least as accurate as, and often more accurate than, most print encyclopedias. but you do have to pay attention to what the subject is, as some get mucked around with quite a bit.

    that said, it's an encyclopedia. quick reference and a pointer to where to look for detailed information. not supposed to be the be all and end all of your quest for knowledge if it's for anything important.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    if that's Mike, he does a much better job of not appearing to be himself than you do.

    just fyi.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    icon
    FreemonSandlewould (profile), May 22nd, 2010 @ 10:14am

    What you fail to realize is that these are professional journalists and you would not expect a amateur brain surgeon to carry out photo shop surgery would you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, May 23rd, 2010 @ 1:23pm

    The Newspaper Owner is Republican and the Politicians are Democrats.

    I live in Morgantown, West Virginia.

    It's like this. West Virginia is a state young people move away from in order to find jobs, leading to continuous population decline. There are some anomalous regions-- the Eastern Panhandle is effectively part of Greater Washington D.C.-Baltimore, but that is on the other side of the Appalachian Mountains. This means that the people who stay behind are disproportionally geriatric, and there are a lot of people getting government checks of one kind or another. Excluding temporary upsets, the Democratic Party has more or less permanent majority status, because no one really believes that the Republicans are enthusiastic about stuff like Medicare and Social Security. In the short term, West Virginians' reaction to Obama is straight out of _Blazing Saddles_, of course. However, that will pass. The regions of West Virginia which are prosperous are generally those which have succeeded in collecting federal money, notably Morgantown, with West Virginia University, and its associated Medicare-funded hospital complex.

    The owner of the Morgantown Dominion-Post, a local businessman, is a perennial Republican candidate for senator and governor. It's not exactly the same thing as being far-right, but still, he would regard Democratic legislators as the competition, and try to avoid doing them any favors. I gather the man is mostly in the mining and steelmaking business, not the news and media business.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dominion_Post_(Morgantown,_West_Virginia)
    http://en.w ikipedia.org/wiki/John_Raese

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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