Ethics Committee Debates June National Geographic Cover

Jun 9, 2013 Ethics

DURHAM, NC (June 9, 2013) – Ethics Committee chair John Long says that it was a simple eMail from an NPPA member who questioned the use of a digitally created photograph on the cover of the June 2013 issue of National Geographic that kicked off a Committee discussion that brought to light widely differing points of view. It was one message – no massive outcry, no flood of protests, Long remembers. But it made him wonder: have we become numb to the digital manipulation of photographs? Does anyone care anymore? Is what the industry deemed a cardinal sin in the 1980s now common practice?

And it's not like the magazine was trying to hide anything from readers. In the issue, and online, they published an explanation of how the cover was created. But is the cover supposed to be a documentary photograph or a portrait? Is it even an ethical issue? Would something on the cover of Vanity Fair be acceptable, while readers of National Geographic hold its journalists to a higher standard?

Follow the discussion on these and other questions as NPPA's Ethics Committee members were joined by one of our past presidents to express their views online here, in the NPPA Ethics Blog.