A week ago, the World Press Photo of the year award went to a digitally enhanced photo taken by Paul Hansen. It’s a really compelling photo, one that SpeigelOnline writers Matthias Krug and Stefan Niggemeier write “conveys a beauty that seems almost innappropriate.”

The fact, though, is that every digital photographer enhances their pictures. Even just adjusting the colors to make it pop on screen is changing the story, altering reality. Of course, in a newsroom, any blatant manipulation of a picture — even one of the protagonisst of Krug and Niggenmeier’s article, Claudio Palmisano of 10b Photography in Rome, notes that they never ‘alter pixels’ — is a violation of journalistic ethics akin to making up quotes or sources. 

But in a digital landscape, where catchy headlines and niche journalism seem to be key components of profitability, it’s hard to distinguish between what’s bias and what’s best practice. 

Is adding a dramatic light just an attention grabber or an opinion? I’m not so sure. The nature of storytelling through words or images is such that just by picking a subject, it becomes interesting or ‘newsworthy.’ The only underlined sentence in my undergrad copy of Susan Sontag’s On Photography is this:  Read more