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Fairness and Accuracy

February 19, 2010

Tim Harrower speaks of the significance of accuracy in reporting. He writes, “Distorting the news with your opinion is as damaging – and unprofessional—as defacing a photograph” (37).  Although reporters learn that fairness and accuracy should govern the work of the reporters, photojournalists do not seem to adhere to this rule. In today’s media age, Harrower’s comparison fails to explain the importance of accuracy.

The frequent use of photoshop to retouch, enhance, and distort images does not present a snapshot of reality. Harrower describes “defacing a photograph” as “unprofessional,” leaving the public to devise its own definition of defacing. Dictionary.com defines defacing as destroying the appearance. While some can argue that photoshop and other digital tools improve images rather than destruct, we can all agree that such tools spoil the level of reality represented by that image.  Personally, I believe photo-enhancing programs can be used as an advertisement technique, but the altered photographs have no place in newspapers or any other news source.

An altered photograph, even if the change betters one’s appearance, sacrifices the credibility of the newspaper and can provoke readers to question the entire company’s presentation of reality. If a little embellishment exists in one area of the news organization, it raises questions if it is acceptable to exaggerate in other departments as well.

To rephrase Harrower’s argument: Distorting a photograph is as damaging and unprofessional as exaggerating facts in a newspaper. Fairness and accuracy should not be restricted to print journalism.

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