Lawmaker to introduce bill making photo altering illegal

WISCONSIN — The September revelation that University of Wisconsinofficials had altered the cover photo of the school’s 2001-02 undergraduateapplication brochure prompted a state legislator to introduce a bill designedto block such practices, a move some say would unnecessarily limit thefreedom of photojournalists.

State Rep. Marlin Schneider, D-Wisconsin Rapids, has pursued this issuebefore through Gov. Tommy Thompson’s privacy board. He got nowhere, hesaid, because he had no examples to provide the board. But now, he said,the University of Wisconsin’s application, altered to include a black studentamong a group of white students, provides an example.

“In the digital age, the ability of people to use this [technology]for extremely serious purposes needs to be addressed,” Schneider said ata news conference announcing his intention to file the bill before thestart of the 2001 session of the Wisconsin Assembly. “It could be extremelydestructive to peopleís lives and reputations.”

University of Wisconsin at Madison journalism professor Shiela Reavessaid photo alteration is an ethical matter that should be settled in thenewsroom, not the statehouse.

“I think that a legislator proposing something [like this] is a journalist’sworst nightmare,” she told The Daily Cardinal, UW-Madison’s studentnewspaper.

Since Schneider’s announcement, university officials have apologizedto the student whose image was added to the photo illustration and reprintedthe application packet with a new picture.