Dishonesty: A Sin of Visual Storytelling

We are a visual society. It is almost impossible to NOT run into at least one piece of manipulated and fraudulent photos or videos. From news articles to social media posts, misleading information is everywhere. Honestly is not only expected and ethical, but should be an important element in any story.

News & Journalism 

Celebrity photos could be blatantly dishonest, but what about manipulation in news sources? I’m not talking about color correction or simple photo tweaking; the problem is deceitfully cropping out important details, editing out key elements, or removing information. This is deceitful, unethical, and misleads the audience. 

But another very dishonest aspect of news and journalism is the use of deceitful graphs. Sometimes, numbers can be confusing and difficult to understand, so using a chart or graphic can help the audience to understand information. By creating a misleading graph, not only is it unethical, but you are providing false information to project a biased narrative. 

MediaMatters

The graph here is misleading because of the axis does not start at 0. Clearly, this image was meant to cause panic by showing a drastic increase in apprehensions at the US border. Also, why put October – April when there are annual dates at the bottom of each bar?

In reality, there was an increase in apprehensions, but not as much as the graph suggests. This is a sin in visual storytelling. The dishonestly is leading people to believe false information.

Celebrities

Constant manipulation that we see on a daily basis comes from various celebrities. They might not seem like storytellers, but when they are sharing what is happening in their life on social media, they are essentially sharing the story of their life. By manipulating it to seem perfect, they are producing a false narrative. 

“On the surface, the main concern with photo manipulation is that it sometimes distorts reality, or the closest version of reality a photograph can convey.”

Aaron Quinn, Manipulation in Photojournalism 

Celebrities also have millions of followers and dedicated fans that look forward to seeing their new content on a daily or weekly basis. Depending on who the person is, this content can be a wide range of selfies, candid photos, landscapes, or promotional. 

MailOnline

The photos in question almost always include photoshopping certain areas on the body to look perfect. Most of these photos try to hide acne, erase wrinkles, eliminate celiac, trim waists, and smooth legs/arms. This might not seem serious, but seeing unrealistic body image repeatedly can be detrimental to anyones mental health.

Conclusion

As a storyteller, it is essential to tell an honest and complete story. From news and journalism to social media, producing dishonest graphics/photos can mislead the audience and produce a dishonest story. 

Resources

Ethics. (2015, December 05). Retrieved October 07, 2020, from https://workingnarratives.org/article/ethics/

Quinn, A. (n.d.). MANIPULATION IN PHOTOJOURNALISM: Is it ethical? Is it corrupt? Making a Difference (pp. 1-15).

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