We need to be fact checking photos, too


Part of being a journalist is knowing how to check your facts before you publish an article stating that the facts are true. You make sure they came from a reliable source and, if possible, that other sources agree with this information.

But how do you check the credibility of a photo you want to publish? Do you even need to?

“A pictures worth a thousand words,” the expression goes. So, photos should be showing you what the facts are, because it’s right there on the screen for you to see. However, digital photography and Photoshop are making it nearly impossible to find a photo that has not been edited in some way.

Correcting color, brightness, contrast and other technical details is expected of photographers. These details, however, do not impact the content of the photo, just the quality.

Now, it is so easy for anyone with basic Photoshop skills to edit in something that was not originally there, or erase something that was. This makes it extremely difficult to tell what is real and what is exaggerated.

If you publish a photo that has been altered, you are supposed to specify that the content has been changed, but is it really possible to regulate that? If you find a free domain image you want to attach onto an article, how do you know if it has been altered?

The digital age is making it easier to share and show what’s going on all over the world, but it is also making it harder to believe our own eyes.