I wonder what caused the New York Times to send out this email yesterday:
TO: ALL FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHERS
This is a reminder of The Times's policies on digital manipulation or other alteration of photos.
As you know, under the contract you signed for The Times, you warrant that any photo submitted for publication "will be original and unaltered (unless it is a photo illustration, pre-approved by your editor and fully disclosed in caption information materials)."
The Times takes this obligation very seriously; the integrity of photographs and other material we publish goes to the heart of our credibility as a news organization. The prohibition on unauthorized alteration of photos applies to all sections of the paper, the Magazine and the Web site.
This passage from the newsroom's "Guidelines on Our Integrity" explains our rules in more detail:
Photography and Images. Images in our pages, in the paper or on the Web, that purport to depict reality must be genuine in every way. No people or objects may be added, rearranged, reversed, distorted or removed from a scene (except for the recognized practice of cropping to omit extraneous outer portions). Adjustments of color or gray scale should be limited to those minimally necessary for clear and accurate reproduction, analogous to the "burning" and "dodging" that formerly took place in darkroom processing of images. Pictures of news situations must not be posed.
In some sections, and in magazines, where a photograph is used to serve the same purposes as a commissioned drawing or painting - as an illustration of an idea or situation or as a demonstration of how a device works, etc. - it must always be clearly labeled as a photo illustration. This does not apply to portraits or still-lifes (photos of food, shoes, etc.), but it does apply to other kinds of shots in which we have artificially arranged people or things, as well as to collages, montages, and photographs that have been digitally altered.
If you have any questions about what is permissible under the rules, please consult the assigning editor.
William E. Schmidt
Deputy Managing Editor
The New York Times Newspaper
Division of The New York Times Company