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Alterations

On Romenesko today there was an article called "Digital Alteration Of News Photographs Continues." The article discusses the photo that many of us saw from the Virginia Tech shootings. It's the photo of the four police officers carrying a student Kevin Sterne by his arms and legs. There was a great deal of controversy over this photo being ran. In the photo there is a little piece of sticking up around the Sterne's lap. The editors of the New York Post, The Sun (London), and People magazine all percieved that piece of cloth to be his genitals. Those three publications digitally altered the photo so it looked like it was part of the grass in the background. It turns out that Sterne had been bleeding from his femoral artery and he fashioned a turniquet from a peice of electrical wire and when he was later found by the police they put a turniquet made from cloth over the other one and this is what was actually sticking up not his genitals. This incident brings us back to the question of whether or not it is ethical to digitally alter photos for the paper, and if they alter photos for taste where do the alterations stop? At the same time I wonder if news papers should be publishing photos when they are unaware of what is actually going on in the photo. Should they have picked a different photo where they can easily tell what everything is? Should they have waited to publish after all the details?