Time Editor Defends Doctoring Iwo Jima Photo, Calls Objective Journalism 'Fantasy'
Time magazine continued to defend its manipulation of the classic
Stengel defied the traditional notion that journalists should be unbiased. ‚ÄúI didn‚Äôt go to journalism school,‚ÄĚ Stengel said. ‚ÄúBut this notion that journalism is objective, or must be objective is something that has always bothered me ‚Äď because the notion about objectivity is in some ways a fantasy. I don‚Äôt know that there is as such a thing as objectivity.‚ÄĚ
Stengel supported his claim by stating the role of journalists is not to ask questions, but answer them.
‚Äú[F]rom the time I came back, I have felt that we have to actually say, ‚ÄėWe have a point of view about something and we feel strongly about it, we just have to be assertive about it and say it positively,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Stengel said. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt think people are looking for us to ask questions, I think they‚Äôre looking for us to answer questions.‚ÄĚ
Donald Mates, an
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs an absolute disgrace,‚ÄĚ Mates said. ‚ÄúWhoever did it is going to hell. That‚Äôs a mortal sin. God forbid he runs into a Marine that was an
Stengel spoke at the
‚ÄúMy feeling is you have to grab people by the lapels and say, ‚ÄėHey, pay attention‚Äô and that was the idea of doing this,‚ÄĚ Stengel said. ‚Äú[I] just think you can‚Äôt be squeamish about trying to get people‚Äôs attention.‚ÄĚ
He also equated the cause of climate change with the cause that the Marines who fought on
‚ÄúYes, absolutely,‚ÄĚ Stengel said, reacting to a question if he thought some might be offended by the cover. ‚ÄúI certainly hear that some people would be offended by it. Obviously many people have ‚Äď were offended by it. But I do think, and I have made this case and I‚Äôve made the case to people who have talked about it, is that climate change and we can even discuss the merits of it or not ‚Äď climate change is going to affect every living human being.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúAnd, to say that somehow we‚Äôre taking a little cause in the midst of a big cause, like the veterans of Iwo Jima seems to me to not make sense,‚ÄĚ Stengel continued. ‚ÄúI think what we‚Äôre doing is raising both by taking two incredibly strong and powerful ideas and combining them. So it is greater than the sum of its parts, rather than either one being the less than the sum of its parts.‚ÄĚ
However, National Press Photographers Association‚Äôs Ethics & Standards Committee Chair John Long, disagreed in a statement published on the organization‚Äôs Web site on April 18, calling the alteration of the photo ‚Äúan insult.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not so much unethical in the sense of digital manipulation since the original photograph is so obviously changed, but it's an insult,‚ÄĚ Long, who is also a photojournalism professor at Syracuse University. ‚ÄúIt's another example of the lack of respect photojournalism gets in the world of word journalism. If they respected the photograph in the same way they respect the written word, this would never happen.‚ÄĚ
As for journalistic standards, Stengel told the audience they are ‚Äúmaking it up as we go along.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt even know what rules there have been all along in journalism,‚ÄĚ Stengel said. ‚ÄúThere are rules we kind of observed by tradition, but it‚Äôs not like you know the legal code or the being a doctor with the way you treat people. We sort of make it up as we go along and I think that is what will continue to happen.‚ÄĚ
Examine their own cultural values and avoid imposing those values on others.
Distinguish between advocacy and news reporting. Analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.
Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
Leslie King contributed to this story.