End the Year with Top Biased Photos

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.

Photo Bias in the media.

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.

About Donald Ellis

Professor emeritus at the University of Hartford.

Posted on January 6, 2014, in Media and politics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on End the Year with Top Biased Photos.

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