RAW Images Banned By International News Agency- Reuters

Raw Images Banned

Thousands Of Photojournalists Forced To Shoot In JPEG

If you’re a photojournalist and want to submit images to the International News Agency Reuters you must shoot in JPEG now. Just this week Reuters announced and, has placed a ban on any photo that was processed from a RAW image file.

This announcement went out via email to freelancers.

Hi,

I’d like to pass on a note of request to our freelance contributors due to a worldwide policy change.. In future, please don’t send photos to Reuters that were processed from RAW or CR2 files. If you want to shoot raw images that’s fine, just take JPEGs at the same time. Only send us the photos that were originally JPEGs, with minimal processing (cropping, correcting levels, etc).

Cheers,

A Reuters spokesperson has confirmed this policy change with PetaPixel, and says that the decision was made to increase both ethics and speed.

“As photojournalists working for the world’s largest international multimedia news provider, Reuters Pictures photographers work in line with our Photographer’s Handbook and the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles,” Reuters says.

Reuters it would seem believes that images that have been processed from RAW files are more likely to be altered beyond just color and exposure adjustments. This move is to try to prevent image tampering and make sure the images it uses do in fact reflect reality.

They are saying that shooting in JPEG will also make the process of receiving breaking news faster since a photographer won’t have the need to post edit.

It’s important to point out that Reuters doesn’t ban any photographers from shooting RAW files entirely. This gives photojournalists free reign to shoot both RAW and JPEG at the same time – one file for sending off and one for archival purposes.

This specific detail could also become a loophole of sorts. Both Canon and Nikon cameras are capable of processing RAW photos into JPEGs in-camera. Combine this process with custom-made profiles, and photojournalists could very easily shoot RAW photos, then choose from one of the pre-defined profiles to give it a certain aesthetic – a process analogous to choosing a film stock.

Considering this would all be done in-camera, and the result would be a JPEG file, it technically wouldn’t violate Reuters’ new policy, so long as the custom profile doesn’t violate the ‘minimal processing’ rule.

Sound like a lot of photographers are going to be forced to improve their in camera shooting skills.

One of our readers who is Abe Van Dyke, owner and photographer at VDC Photo is a photojournalist. He posted a comment to our Facebook page and had this to say on his blog.

Covering an event

What does this mean to the average photojournalist? Not a lot really. 

For many years photojournalists have already been shooting in both JPEG and RAW at the same time while on assignment for various organization. This helps speed up delivery to an editor by just needing to keyword, caption and slightly tweak the JPEG photos. 

Let’s take a look at my workflow for a moment. 

  1. Photograph the subject
  2. Get to a computer with internet as fast as possible or hand off the memory card to a runner
  3. Minor adjustments to the image in Lightroom
  4. Caption and keyword final photos in Photo Mechanic 
  5. Send the files via FTP to whatever organization I’m working for that day. Alternatively at large events, depending on the size of an organization, a photographer may not even see the photos before an editor gets them and posts them for the world to see.

A dying industry

Back in 2013, the Chicago Sun-Times laid off all of their photographers. This was a shock to the industry considering 28 people just lost their jobs including a Pulitzer Prize Winning photojournalist.

Chicago Sun Times Layoff 2013

As you can see in the statement given by the Sun-Times, the need for video and to “evolve with out digitally savvy customers” are a few of the reasons cited for the layoffs.

This isn’t the first time photographers have been offered buyout packages or have simply been laid off. For years budgets have been getting tighter and the staff sizes have been shrinking. I’ve watched a lot of my predecessors either be laid off or given buyouts from their staff position.

As mentioned earlier, I truly do believe that the mission of a photojournalist is to accurately inform the public about current events.

In order to do this we must edit carefully. By this I mean that in general the only things done to an image is changing the exposure, contrast, white balance and cropping. Not a lot else is done to preserve the integrity of the image.

Some people however will step over the line and edit their images to no longer show the truth. Take for example “Reutersgate” which coincidently is the same organization that is changing their policies and responsible for inspiring this post. Back in 2006 a photojournalist named Adnan Hajj was covering the Israel-Lebanon conflict and he deliberately altered images he took and sent to Reuters. In this case the manipulation was quite extreme.

Adnan_Hajj_Beirut_photo_comparison
Image via Wikipedia article: https://goo.gl/RqwUdA

More recently you have issues with the validity and editing of images sent in to the World Press Photo competition.

In fact there was a heated debate surrounding 2012 photo of the year. Here is a photo used in a PetaPixel article which reported on the controversy.

world-press-photo-2012

The top image was submitted for the World Press Photo competition and was heavily manipulated. The bottom image however was what was initially published by the photographer.

Clearly the highly edited image looks to be highly edited. To me it has a cinematic feel with the purpose of increasing the level of drama in the scene. Photos like this increase the distrust in the mainstream media and even alternative media sources.

The photo is truly emotionally moving, but the amount of editing used for the competition is beyond what any photojournalist publishes on a daily basis. In fact, World Press Photo responded to the controversy by altering their post processing rules for the competition.

You can read more in the original articles at PetaPixel, DIY Photography and, Abe Van Dyke VDC Photo

Source: PetaPixel, DIY Photography and, Abe Van Dyke VDC Photo

 

About Johnny Yakubik

Johnny Yakubik is the Founder- Editor- Publisher- Chief Cook and Bottle Washer at Modern Lens Magazine. He's a professional family and portrait photographer living in Southern California. You can see some of his work at http://californiabeachphotography.com

66 comments

That can be achieved in the RAW format as well. Only basics like WB, exposure, shadows, highlights,lens correction/aberation should be done when post processing RAW images. RAW images should be treated in Lightroom/Photoshop like negatives were treated in a darkroom in the days of film. JPEGs can also easily be over processed and altered…

Just like in the old days, when folks like Ansel Adams were like, just print the negative as-is! No dodging, burning, or selecting the right contrast filter when enlarging, or selecting different chemicals to alter the sharpness, grain, contrast…

Slide film is somewhat analogous to in-camera jpegs in that the shutter is ideally the last step in the process (not counting standardized developing and mounting, of course). But while a well developed shot on, say, Fuji Velvia was a thing of beauty that was difficult, if not impossible to match with a print from negative film, jpegs offer NO image quality advantages to a RAW file. Jpegs have other advantages, of course; speed, small file size, more pics on a card, larger bursts of high speed shots, ready to display or print, and it forces the photographer to think more before the shot, which can make him/her a better photographer.

Well, the easy answer is, the clarity. The hard answer is that once it’s saved in jpg, the first stage of integrity (the stability of the file is compromised) is gone. I shoot live music in my city and shoot in raw format. Artists like to make changes. And please remember. Any file type can be photoshopped. Raw just means all the data is there.

No not to the extent of a raw image but it can be photoshopped enough to to alter the subject matter to fit the need of the media outlet. Nothing wrong with photoshopping as long as it’s done in a fashion that’s honest and with integrity.

It can be Photoshopped every bit as much as a raw image. It just doesn’t have all the light data that the raw image has cuz it’s compressed but you can still manipulate it to be a completely different image if you want.

Anyone who says (or thinks) that jpgs can’t be Photoshopped every bit as much as a raw image, absolutely do not understand the power of PS. RAW is simply an uncompressed format with much greater data capacity. Jpegs are a self-compressing format with a huge majority of data removed.

Users of PS that never processed film might not understand that PS/LR is the digital equivalent of a darkroom. Retouch and pixel alteration are something ENTIRELY different.

My own experience as a photographer and retouch artist coupled with my time as a professional film printer and a Photoshop instructor for a couple years, has provided me with some knowledge on this topic. Once a film negative was developed, we would scan it and then adjust color, brightness, and contrast to maximize the printed image quality for our customers. Any photographer who had a darkroom (us old guys), learned the same skill when making prints before the digital revolution.

Publishing a photo “as shot” (whether digital or film) simply requires the photographer have much higher skills. It truly places a division between those who “take snapshots”, and those who actually “make images”.

Shooting a certain film before digital was then a choice that would alter the way we see things. Like a huge analog filter. I don’t get that jpeg thing. What’s next: only shots done with a 50 mm cause it’s closer to the human eye?

actually shooting jpg is very similar to using the old chrome films….it lessens the chance of any drastic alteration. Chrome (slide) film was extremely difficult to alter once taken….perhaps only in print where some cropping could be done but overall very hard to do anything else. I believe using only jpg is an attempt to recreate those limits.

I worked as a PJ for a number of years and I would never alter any shots to suit the narrative. I took them straight out of the camera using only slight cropping to adjust for available space, that’s it! I support this move completely. If you’re a PJ and cannot tell the story without some type of alteration to your image then you’re not a PJ….

One thing I don’t understand about this, is that in JPEG your camera actually does editing it compresses the file and it does a bit of auto correcting on color and everything else. A raw image is truly wrong nothing done to the photo not even in the camera. I think the news agencies should request the raw image on edited. That would be the smarter way to go because a JPEG is an edited image edited in the camera.

Understandable….but I really wish people (ie journalists who *should* know better.
Eg: …”this gives photojournalists free reign….”
It’s “free REIN….” As in giving a horse a free rein to stretch their necks. No-one is suddenly joining the bloody monarchy.
PLEASE journalists…set a good example and don’t let standards slip!

I am only an armature but I don’t think that post processing or photo shopping photo’s does the photographer any good anyway. If you can’t take a photo that depicts what is in front of you without photo shopping it then in my opinion you are NOT a very good photographer to start with…..I believe that what I SEE is what I photograph….NOT what a computer can do to make it look “”better””(supposedly) and I always shoot in jpeg……..

You realize that when you shoot in JPEG the camera interprets the data and edits it according to what its internal calculations think is correct. Camera or photoshop every image is edited in some fashion. It’s quite obvious you never shot film or you would understand that RAW is digital’s version of a negative. Not to mention, in Photoshop it’s the photographer making the choice of what will be done to the image vs JPEG where the cameras computer is making that decision. So in reality, you have it backwards.

Honestly what you’re saying, no offense as you’re an “armature” – is clueless. There’s 1000 reasons to work with and edit a photo that has nothing to do with changing its content. I’ll never waste my day shooting in JPEG, I want the control in post.

I personally think there’s more to this than meets the eye. JPEGs can be used immediately whereas RAW has to be processed and saved in another file format. This is time consuming and in the age we live in journalists make a living on who has that scoop or photo out first in the press. Maybe Reuters wants their journos to be the first with news…(not having to spend time editing images). So images will go straight from the camera to the press thus eliminating the RAW editor in between. Just a thought.

I’m guessing, however, that if you took the only picture of, say, a zeppelin exploding in flight, and all you had was a RAW file, that Reuters would still use it. But what do I know, maybe sticking to “the rules” is more important these days. And another thought–it would be nice if print journalists cared just as much about not shaping the story to reflect their own biases and political viewpoints. Altering photographs is not the only way to alter the truth.

I figure either their low paid journalists have no clue how to edit or they procrastinate gettting it done but why not force them to go back to film then? Oh wait, they would have to wait for them to get it developed lol……..

As a photojournalist I always shoot raw. I shoot in so many different lighting conditions daily it allows me to get the the exposure and color temperature correct. It is just a way for me to get the photo ready for print. You can run adobe camera raw on jpgs too.

Yes but analysis can tell more about that. This is one for the bin as soon as they start making exceptions because submitted JPEGs are not usable. And it will kill workflow as often or more often than it helps. When it does it will be really slow because they will have to ask for re-submission. This is a news killer.

They are not “banning” RAW images. They just don’t want RAW images submitted, only the original JPEGs. Smaller file sizes are faster, don’t need to be rendered, and take up less space. You can still shoot RAW, but you must either shoot RAW+JPEG or just JPEG.

Well in this day and age, most people seem to like crappy cell phone pics. Very few people can tell the difference between raw and jpeg. If its printed n a newspaper no need for raw. I you like what you shoot then who really cares what you shoot with in what format.

There’s a difference between Photoshopping and post editing with digital format, for those of us that used to develop our negatives and place them in an enlarger, we would crop, add color and then developed the prints in chemical baths, I use LR just for that propose, post editing (RAW), too many people grab a point and shot and call themselves a photographer. Most online formats will request a JPEG due to file size, big difference from a RAW file.

OH THE HORROR. Maybe media types are tired of looking at pictures that may be doctored up to go with the story. Media companies need to REPORT the news and not BE the news.

Ah, come off it. My camera simultaneously records both jpeg and raw and I’ve programmed it so jpeg goes to one card and raw to the other. Looking at this picture I think you’ll discover that most of these cameras do the same.

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