WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Altering Sound and Images for the News

Apr 8, 2014

The Shop Talk panelists discuss the ethics of altering images for news stories or dubbing in sound that was not collected at the scene.

The issue came up because the Associated Press reported CBS News recently acknowledged an engineer made a mistake by dubbing in the sound of a traditional internal combustion engine over footage of a Tesla, which is an electric vehicle that’s considered one of the quietest cars ever made.

Panelist Lisa Kernek said it’s wrong to deceive the audience.  She said the same journalistic rules apply whether it’s a photo, video, or audio.  Kernek said the audience assumes reporters are presenting things as they actually looked or sounded.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton wondered how many times news audiences have been misled by dubbed in audio or altered images but never discovered the deception.  She said the use of sound is an important tool for reporters but it’s unethical to dub in sound effects after the fact.

Panelist Rich Egger concurred. He said only the sound collected at the scene of a story should be used in a report.