Monday, August 07, 2006

Photoshop and 1984

On August 1st...

"It's hard to imagine how someone sitting in an air-conditioned office or broadcast studio many thousands of miles from the scene can decide what occurred on the ground with any degree of accuracy," said Kathleen Carroll, AP's senior vice president and executive editor.

Carroll said in addition to personally speaking with photo editors, "I also know from 30 years of experience in this business that you can't get competitive journalists to participate in the kind of (staging) experience that is being described."

Six days later...

Reuters has withdrawn a second photograph and admitted that the image was doctored, following the emergence of new suspicions against images provided by the news organization. On Sunday, Reuters admitted that one of its photographers, Adnan Hajj, used software to distort an image of smoke billowing from buildings in Beirut in order to create the effect of more smoke and damage.

Hmm... wonder if Ms. Carroll has made any new comments on the veracity of their photographers and photo editors after the events that unfolded this weekend?

It's scary how easy it is to manipulate the photos that document the news and events these days. For instance, I can easily Photoshop anything I don't like in my family vacation photos. In fact, I've gotten very good at it. Don't like that pimple on your face in the last family photo? Erase it. Fat, smoking guy hanging out in the background of the photo of the kids riding a ride? Wham... Gone. It's so commonplace to do this now that the word "Photoshop" has gone the way of Kleenex, Google, or Coke and has transcended it's use as a brand name and has become a part of the common vernacular.

I watched the movie 1984 recently... Instead of the paper chutes and furnaces in that Orwell masterpiece, we have computer screens, mice, and digital cameras. Or, in the case of the Rather documents, Microsoft Word and fax machines. Same stuff though.




Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.

This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs -- to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place.

Oh, wait... maybe we aren't living in the world of 1984. In both of these cases, the falsifications were proven. Then again, that's only two cases. How many of these "alterations" have slipped by unnoticed?


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