North Coast Journal

March 1995 - PUBLISHER


Animal head swapping

WARNING: All photographs in this magazine may have been retouched.

There. I feel better.

Remember the big flap last year over one of the many O.J. Simpson covers of Time magazine? It was a dark and sinister police mug shot. Sure, he looked bad, but how good can you look in a police mug shot?

Then the same photo showed up in rival Newsweek and in it O.J. didn't look quite as bad.

It turned out the Time version of the photograph was actually a "photo illustration," meaning the photo was digitized by computer and tweaked to create a dramatic effect. (You remember what happens on old black and white televisions when you turn up the contrast?)

Time editors were duly bashed by readers for editorializing. But then, photo editors editorialize all the time by selecting one particular photo over another to illustrate a story.

Manipulation of photographs is nothing new. Back in our high school yearbook we all had our acne removed by an airbrush. Today, it is quite possible to take the head of a giraffe in one photo and place it on an elephant's body in another National Enquirer.

I remember a discussion in a journalism ethics class many years ago. We all concluded somberly that it was OK to manipulate an advertising photo - but never one running with a real news story! Why, it was sacrilege!

Until last month when the Journal purchased a new photo system using Photoshop III.

First, we went to work on some of the ad photos just a little less black, lightening up the gray tones. Then we moved on to smudging out dust spots and scratches, erasing lines that shouldn't be there, burning and dodging, whitening teeth.

When we got around to the editorial photos, we couldn't resist ah, removing imperfections. (For instance, we erased scratches from an old color photograph accompanying the horse story on page 19. And, the aerial photo on page 11 is actually two photos merged into one.)

We thought the best thing to do was to confess in advance that editorial photos may be retouched to improve quality. However, we promise not to alter editorial content - and to never to place the head of a giraffe on an elephant.

Another change this month is our return to heat-set printing for the cover. Some readers may remember several years ago, the eight-page "wrap" of the magazine was printed on a glossy stock of paper and run on a press that literally "bakes on" the color.

We are finally able to return to the heat-set printing process this month. And we are happy to report that the magazine is still completely recyclable - staples and all. When you are finished with the magazine, pass it along to a neighbor - or simply recycle along with your newspapers.

Our cover story for March on health care has been several months in the making due to its scope and complexity. We almost titled it, "The HMOs are coming, the HMOs are coming." But that's only part of the story, as reported by Lisa Ladd-Wilson.

There is an inherent danger in reporting on a story that is still evolving. While we were preparing to go to press, two related items crossed my desk. One, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that several Bay Area HMOs had dropped a large number of specialists from their rosters. "(T)he depth of the abrupt cuts in specialty care has amazed even longtime observers of the march of HMO-style managed care in California medicine."

Why the HMOs took this action and what it means to us here, we hope, will be clearer after reading, "The health care revolution."

The second article, forwarded by one local physician, appeared in the Wall Street Journal in December. Simply called, "Money Machines," it reports, "HMOs Pile Up Billions In Cash, Try to Decide What to Do With It."

Finally, just a reminder that this is KEET-TV's pledge month. We have volunteered to help staff the telephones March 16 at 7:30 p.m. on the Internet Show, sponsored by one of our regular advertisers, Northcoast Internet.

Judy A. Hodgson

Editor and Publisher


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