Pertinent and timely
Don't Believe What You See in the Papers
I'd expand that to say "Why you can't trust news reporters"
They have betrayed their profession and chose the wrong side in this conflict.
(first person): One example given is the "sunset indicator" on a camera that can change sky colour. How is this different, the author asks. Simple -- in one case the individual photographer made a decision to alter the picture; in the other case any photographer using the same equipment would have gotten the same result. Ubiquity is the safeguard. If I have a regular digital camera, I am pretty confident that it will (relatively) accurately take pictures -- even if they are slightly different from reality, they are sold to so many people in so many contexts that specific image falsification biases would make no sense. In other words, non-person-generated alterations are made in advance of context and therefore are context-neutral; photographer-initiated alterations are made after the fact and therefore have a greater potential for manipulation. After all, some people might find a dark sky nefarious, others beautiful. So the automatic equipment is unlikely to be biased in one direction or the other. The camera is unlikely to have an agenda because it doesn't know the context. Even if you figure the camera company is engaged in a conspiracy, they can't conspire effectively without knowing the situation in advance. So their cameras won't know which direction to falsify. That's why we trust them more than the individual photographer.
High end digital cameras (as would be used by professional photojournalists) allow the pictures to be saved in RAW format. This means all the settings you can manipulate (contrast, type of light source, compression, filetype...) apart from shutter speed (and maybe aperature) are not locked. You can toggle between them on a computer.
Any REPUTABLE news agency would audit their photographers (at least when rampant manipulation is alledged and supported) and request the original RAW files (before compression, before settings are locked) for review. Same as saying "let me see your negatives".
(second person): I was under the impression that digital manipulation of imagery was commonplace. For example, the infamous "blacker O.J." was claimed not to be an attempt at manipulating public perception but rather a routine 'enhancement' of a photo for a magazine cover.
Just as the manipulation of Rush Limbaugh was "routine". It is a not so subtle attempt to tarnish the subject.
(second person): If it is profitable to manipulate, it will be done. Just as language is manipulated in the service of man and is never truly "neutral", so with imagery. And this is really nothing new. Matthew Brady 'staging' bodies at Antietam, the flag raising at Iwo Jima (it was the second flag),
The photo of the second flag raising at Iwo Jima was not staged. It was a larger flag than the first.