The Economist cover before and afterLast week The Economist admitted to doctoring a photo of Obama, using the argument that it’s all part of the art of the cover. It’s another puzzler in the debate over ethics in the age of digital photography. Obama’s treatment is nothing new: a look at photo tampering through history shows even Honest Abe’s image was not so honest. Digital technology simply makes it easier – or does it? Today’s viewers have a
healthier dose of suspicion, aided by their own tech savvy that helps them spot
photo from
fake
.  Photoshopping a few extra
smoke billows
over a bomb blast looks more dramatic, but it may have readers
asking, “What’s
wrong with this picture
?” Even kids can spot movie clips being
passed off as news footage
. But it’s not up to the audience alone to play
police – that’s why the industry has developed universal digital imaging guidelines.


The Economist cover before and afterLast week The Economist admitted to doctoring a photo of Obama, using the argument that it’s all part of the art of the cover. It’s another puzzler in the debate over ethics in the age of digital photography. Obama’s treatment is nothing new: a look at photo tampering through history shows even Honest Abe’s image was not so honest. Digital technology simply makes it easier – or does it? Today’s viewers have a
healthier dose of suspicion, aided by their own tech savvy that helps them spot
photo from
fake
.  Photoshopping a few extra
smoke billows
over a bomb blast looks more dramatic, but it may have readers
asking, “What’s
wrong with this picture
?” Even kids can spot movie clips being
passed off as news footage
. But it’s not up to the audience alone to play
police – that’s why the industry has developed universal digital imaging guidelines.

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Patricia W. Elliott is a magazine journalist and assistant professor at the School of Journalism, University of Regina. You can visit her at patriciaelliott.ca.