Monday, August 07, 2006

Reuters and Image Validity Awareness

To its credit, the blogging community once again exposes the use of manipulated pictures in the world news media. The coverage is widespread on the blogs so I will only link to a Michelle Malkin roundup about how Reuters is caught using digitally altered photographs from Lebanon.

Creating image fraud is becoming very easy as the software that manipulates baseline data improves. In practice, there is no meaning difference between what can be created from an image derived from traditional or electronic photography, but there is a fundamental difference between the two processes in terms of establishing image validity.

Film photography produces a physical object which then becomes the source of the image. The film negative is a tangible thing that can be handled and examined, and the sequence of images along a roll of film document the position of the individual moment within a period of time. A step is required to create a positive image from a negative source and while the positive image can be scanned and manipulated, the actual negative and direct print are discrete and unaltered items.

Digital photography has no comparable substantive product to prove the truth of the image. The ease of direct imaging combined with the transmissibility of image data has won the commercial competition between the two formats. The observant, however, are beginning to understand that in the digital age, there is an imperative to view all pictures presented for our viewing with much more skepticism than in the past.