Daily Archives: January 6, 2014
Let’s return to the issue of biased images. Click on the link below and check out some of the most biased and obviously manipulated images – not necessarily from the previous year – and think a little bit more about how to protect yourself from such manipulation.
You can see that there are essentially four strategies to manipulating images. The first is termed deliberate staging. This is pretty self-explanatory and refers to using objects to increase the emotional intensity of the message or stimulate a particular conclusion that might not be warranted otherwise. It represents a blatant lie and the crude manipulation of an image by placing objects in the image that were not there in the first lace. The second strategy is called fauxtography. This is making something look like a photograph that really is not. So you can see in the one image how a fired missile was captured on the computer and reproduced to make it look like another missile was fired and increase the impression of military might and competence. This is particularly simple in the era of computer photography and Photoshop. The third way to manipulate images is through perspective and angles. Close-up shots of a few hands make it look like there are more people present then in actuality. Wide-angle shots give a different perspective than narrow angle shots. Finally, visual images can be recycled or reused. Pictures of injured or dead soldiers can be simply reused in order to make the scene appear more emotional or communicative of violence than actually occurred.
The ethics of digital manipulation of the news in particular are clear – it is unacceptable. There are debates about photo manipulation with respect to aesthetics or beauty. I have encountered the argument that enhancing beauty or engaging in numerous manipulations for the purpose of aesthetic enhancement only is acceptable. I can accept that. It is not very troubling that a movie star on the front of a magazine has blemishes removed and positive highlights. But a “news” story that is supposed to be telling some semblance of the truth is a different matter.
I have encountered the argument that enhancing a photograph through any of the four methods described above, for the purpose of what the perpetrator considers increased clarity and specificity, is acceptable. So, if a building is blown up and some children are killed then placing a baby’s toy in the center of the image enhances the significant emotional truth of the story. This is, of course, a weak argument that is dangerous since its acceptance justifies any sort of manipulation. Moreover, even if children were killed in an explosion there are numerous emotional and political issues that would be forced to the background because of an individual’s doctoring of the image. And although such an argument has been made is accepted by no reliable or trustworthy news organization.