Photojournalists, news editors, and many consumers of their work are engaged in a great debate over the principals and standards that should rightly be applied to the use of photographs in all forms of news reporting and publication.
That statement was valid in the mid to late 19th century when photographs first began to appear in newspapers, books, and magazines. This debate is perhaps even more valid today, in 2010, when it is possible for experts in digital imaging to contrive realistic visualizations that imply almost any type of emotion or action in totally unreal settings.
The longevity of this debate about the ethics of using “real” pictures indicates the continuing change in society’s values and the impact of changes in photographic technology.
For the purposes of this discussion, “real” is defined as an accurate photographic depiction of the actual event as it occurred in front of the camera. Color presents a completely different mood than B&W. Different angles of view and perspective can produce different realities (wide versus long lens distortion, 35mm versus 8’x10’ view camera). Some commentators expect these effects should be noted in captions. For the purist, a real picture is altered only by cropping and minor exposure adjustments to allow the viewer to see detail.