In recent weeks, LSU found itself in the middle of a public controversy after a photo of LSU students at a football game was digitally altered and released in a broadcast e-mail. The situation was further complicated (and became fodder for Fox news) because the manipulation involved the removal of crosses painted on students’ chests. In the context of news, the consensus is clear: photographs should not be manipulated. What further complicated the LSU situation, to some, is that the photo was edited under the context of “public relations communication” rather than “news communication.”
In my opinion, LSU should not have run that particular photo (it gave the wrong impression for a public university) nor should they have manipulated the photo. This was a grievous photo manipulation by LSU.
The PRSA Code of Ethics is states:
“HONESTY: We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.”
Manipulating the photo in anyway distorts the “truth” of that photo and becomes a lie. Once that photo is manipulated it becomes a constructed moment–a moment that never actually happened. Those LSU students–and their First Amendment rights–have been compromised through this image manipulation by the very institution purporting to represent them. While LSU may have held the legal rights to manipulate the photo, an ethical line was crossed. It is situations like this that cause people to distrust the media and public relations practitioners. Public relations communications–whether written, oral or visual–have an ethical responsibility to be truthful.
The following photo (by Catherine Threlkeld) is courtesty of The Daily Reveille:
Read more about the story here: http://www.lsureveille.com/news/article_65a62574-181d-11e2-83fe-001a4bcf6878.html