In 2014 I was commissioned by the World Press Photo Academy to conduct research on the integrity of the image, and to assess contemporary industry standards worldwide. The research sought to answer this question: “What is current practice, and what are the accepted standards internationally, when it comes to the manipulation of still images in photojournalism?”
Over the past decade, people have periodically expressed concerns about the credibility of news and documentary images, raising issues in particular about the manipulation and post-processing of digitally produced photographs. In 2009, World Press Photo revised its rules to make clear that photographs in its annual contest could not be altered, except in accordance with accepted industry standards. The contest juries have each year determined what those standards are.
“Based on the input of 45 respondents from 15 countries, the research gives us a first global snapshot of how the issues of processing and manipulation are viewed around the media world. It was surprising to me that there was such a clear consensus on the two main issues, namely that material changes to images were prohibited, and that processing should be ‘minor’ rather than ‘extreme’. Of course, that still leaves much to interpretation, but these are two elements that can be built on to help secure the integrity of the image.”
You can download the PDF of the full report here: Integrity-of-the-Image_2014-Campbell-report