Phototruth Or Photofiction? : Ethics and Media Imagery in the Digital Age book cover
1st Edition

Phototruth Or Photofiction?
Ethics and Media Imagery in the Digital Age

ISBN 9780805842616
Published May 1, 2002 by Routledge
244 Pages

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Book Description

This text examines the use of images in journalistic contexts and the manipulation of these images to accomplish varying objectives. It provides a framework for critical discussion among professionals, educators, students, and concerned consumers of newspapers, magazines, online journals, and other nonfiction media. It also offers a method of assessing the ethics of mass-media photos, which will help visual journalists to embrace new technologies while preserving their credibility.

Phototruth or Photofiction? also:
*recounts the invention of photography and how it came to be accorded an extraordinary degree of trust;
*details how photos were staged, painted, composited and otherwise faked, long before digital technology;
*lists contemporary image-altering products and practices;
*details many examples of manipulated images in nonfiction media and lists rationales offered in defense of them;
*explains how current ethical principles have been derived;
*lays groundwork for an ethical protocol by explaining conventions of taking, processing, and publishing journalistic photos; and
*offers tests for assessing the appropriateness of altered images in non-fiction media.

Each chapter is followed by "Explorations" designed to facilitate classroom discussion and to integrate into those interactions the students' own perceptions and experiences. The book is intended for students and others interested in the manipulation of images.

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword. Introduction. Part I: A History of "Phototruth." "A Picture of Reality": Qualified Objectivity in Visual Journalism. Old-Fashioned Fakery: Photo Manipulation in the Pre-Digital Era. Part II: Implications of the New Digital Age. The Digital Media Landscape: Liquid Imagery, Shaky Credibility. The New Threat: Digital Deception and the Loss of Faith. Rationales and Excuses: Justifying Staged and Manipulated Photos. Part III: Groundwork: Toward a Protocol. Ethical Foundations: Doing the Right Thing. Taking Journalistic Photographs: Traditions and Techniques. Processing Journalistic Photographs: Keeping It Real. Publishing Journalistic Photographs: Context and Viewer Preconceptions. Part IV: Developing a Protocol. The "Nonfiction Photographic Environment": A Range of Implied Authenticity. Introducing the Reader's "Qualified Expectation of Reality": The Quote Standard. Previewing the Guidelines for Photo Assessment: Defining "Photofiction." Photofiction Tests 1 and 2: The Viewfinder and Nonfiction Photography's Process Tests. Photofiction Tests 3 and 4: The Technical Credibility and Obvious Implausibility Tests. The Wording of a Disclosure. The Prominence of a Disclosure. Test 5: The "Essence of Image." Cosmetic Retouching: Skin Deep? Applying the Guidelines: Case Studies. Journalistic Photography Online: A Possible Future. A Fragile Fortress of Credibility.

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"Among the 'pluses' of the book are the scores of quotations from academics and professionals that cause the reader to sit back and think a bit more about what he or she is reading....the content is important and may help others explain visual 'reality' to their children--or students."
Media Ethics

"Wheeler's book is a long labor of love-six years in the making. Photofact or Photofiction? is well-researched and footnoted. Each chapter offers a bibliography ('Endnotes') and the comments from the forum respondents are run throughout the text as well. The book is a smooth and interesting read. A former magazine editor, Wheeler writes precisely, concretely and compellingly. Although the book is targeted at young students aspiring to be photojournalists, graphic editors and visual communicators, its content and value is valuable to everyone."
Visual Resources

"...Phototruth or Photofiction would serve very well as a text or supplement to undergraduate courses in photojournalism and media ethics. It is well written and covers a wide range of issues effectively and in an organized manner. Its focus on history and theory, while a bit sparse, is enough to put the issues into a context and provide a basis for the guidelines the author provides. It also provides detailed examples from newspaper and magazine journalism of acceptable modifications, those changes that are in the gray areas, and those that are clearly indefensible."
Journalism Studies

"Tom Wheeler delivers the book academia needs and does so with graceful writing, tight organization and fairness. This is an important contribution to Visual Communication."
Shiela Reaves
University of Wisconsin-Madison