January 23, 2007 – After a torrent whirlwind of events following Reuters’s release of doctored photos of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict in the summer, the global news agency’s Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger released new Photoshop guidelines for its photojournalists. Reinforcing Reuters’s values for accuracy, independence, freedom from bias, and integrity, according to their Trust Principles, the new Photoshop rules include specific limits to altering images with particular editing tools.
In August, Reuters came under criticism after releasing two doctored photos taken by freelancer Adnan Hajj, whose relationship with Reuters was terminated in the days following the discovery of the image manipulation.
The news agency has since appointed a new senior photo editor to head its Middle East photo operations. Stephen Crisp started his new role this month.
In a Jan. 18 Reuters blog entry, Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger said that the news agency will provide additional Photoshop training, reconstruct photo editing operations, and release new rules for Photoshop editing.
The Photoshop guidelines include standard practices of not adding or deleting subject matter from photos. The general practice for news photographers is to limit excessive color manipulation, lighting, and dodging. The Reuters rules now pinpoint what tools are restricted and what editing boundaries are limited.
A certain degree of editing is required for preparation and transfer of images. Photographers are allowed and expected to make minor edits including cropping, resizing, and correcting levels to histogram limits. Other allowances include sharpening up to 300 percent with a radius of 0.3 and threshold of 0 and Eye Dropper set to neutral gray, according to Schlesinger in the statement.
Reuters does not permit auto levels, selective area sharpening, in-camera sharpening, or in-camera saturation. In addition to the eraser tool, photographers are not allowed to use the airbrush, brush, or paint tools. External Photoshop plug-ins for sharpening are prohibited and use of third-party noise reduction plug-ins is limited.
The Reuters rules also mentioned caption guidelines. Photo captions should include the type of specialty lens used such as tilt-shift lenses or Lensbabies. Photographers should also spell out if visits are escorted or part of organized tours.
All Reuters editors-in-chief and sub editors will undergo Photoshop training by Adobe professionals, under standards set by the senior photo staff, according to the statement.
Editor-in-chief Schlesinger also hinted at the collaboration between Reuters, Canon, and Adobe for a digital photo authentication system, announced in December by Reuters CEO Tom Glocer in his blog. "We are working with industry leaders to see if there are technical means we can devise to better recognize possible fraud," stated Schlesinger.
Interested readers can find the Reuters blog and a comments thread available at http://blogs.reuters.com/2007/01/18/report-on-reuters-actions-after-publishing-altered-photographs/.