A Picture Tells A Thousand Lies?

Technology can easily manipulate photographs and videos to portray a certain message.  However, that ability has become more powerful and influential today since the Internet can easily disseminate a tweaked message to millions of people.

This website shows the “top 15 most manipulated photographs in history.”  Most of the historic photographs have either digitally inserted or wiped out another image to give the picture a different context.  Most of the photos were used purely as propaganda.  Photograph number 10 was used to fuel fire against presidential candidate John Kerry among Vietnam War Veterans.  The photograph went viral and accomplished its mission since it angered many people.  Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham said, “When he stands up with Jane Fonda, someone that is so notorious and hated by veterans….it diminishes the service some of us almost gave our lives for, and the over 56,000 people that lost their lives —it slaps their families in the face.”  The picture was completely fake, and yet, emotions took over reason and Kerry soon had many more enemies.

I don’t think anything should be changed in a picture because then it tells a lie.  Even though removing the fence post from the famous Kent State picture may have seemed like a small change, it is still altering the image.  Any alteration reduces its accuracy and  credibility.  The cover of O.J. Simpson that Time published makes Simpson appear more menacing and dangerous.  The photographer that manipulated the image said he “wanted to make it more artful, more compelling.”  However, his attempt only misrepresents Simpson and clouds the truth.

In photograph number 6, it was almost like Lenin and Stalin tried to rewrite history by removing Leon Trotsky from the photo.  Once Stalin began to see Trotsky as a threat he tried to eradicate any evidence that they could have been connected at one point in time.

This type of digital manipulation can be extremely dangerous.  It’s powerful, and it can completely alter the course of a campaign or other big event.  People need to be careful and not always believe what they see because in this day and age, Photoshop can always make a “new truth.”


About Laura Murray

My name is Laura Murray and I am a senior Journalism major and politics minor at Ithaca College. Upon graduation, I plan to pursue a career in broadcast journalism as a reporter or a producer.
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