This is a fairly modern ideal for photo journalism. During the American civil war, photographers did everything from dragging dead bodies around to pose them to adding clouds in order to increased the gloom and threatening appearance of a photograph. Some of these men are considered historically important in the development of photo-journalism.
Nothing done in Photoshop is really new to photography or to photojournalism. If you consider journalism as communication by the reporter, then a retouched photograph added to a news story is no more than very same sort of communication as Pete Meyers discusses. A photograph accompanying a story about destruction may carry the intent of the writer better if it clearly depicts what the journalist is discussing. We may argue that there is a loss of objectivity, but people never are objective. The best one can achieve is a kind of pseudo-objectivity that can be easily more misleading than a photo altered to carry mood better.
That said, my preference is the same as yours .
This is an important point you make. Writing about events, in general, is a very subjective process. Two different people observing the same event, each trying as hard as they can, to be as objective as they can, will sometimes (perhaps often) come up with vastly different interpretations of what actually happened.
(Anyone who's been involved in a divorce case will understand this ).
The fundamental problem here is the notion that the camera cannot lie; therefore an unmanipulated image tells the truth. To some degree this is so. Unattended video surveillance cameras probably fall into this category.
true that the camera cannot lie. Only people can lie (and probably chimpanzees and a few other creatures ).
It's the use
of the image that's significant here. An unmanipulated image that's used in a manipulative manner can be far more untruthful than a manipulated image used in an unmanipulated manner.
Journalists very often seek out images, any image relevant to a particular personality in the news, whether recent or old, whether in context or out of context, simply because they need an image to support the story.
If a journalist wishes to paint the Australian, David Hicks, who's been held in Guantanamo Bay without trial for several years, in a damaging 'light', all he has to do is drag up some photo of David holding a rifle and looking menacing. The photo might have been taken years ago, long before 9/11 and long before the American invasion of Afghanistan. The American public sees the image and imagines the gun is pointing at them. Poor David doesn't stand a chance. The damage is done. An unmanipulated
image has been used in a devastatingly manipulative manner.