The ontologies of the World Press Photo Competition

Due to a high number of disqualifications for the previous two World Press Photo competitions, the foundation that runs the event has introduced a new code of ethics. The handbook for judging photographs has been released publicly for the first time, and four videos detail what counts as manipulation. Reuters recently banned freelance photographers from submitting photographs that are shot in RAW format. This format allows for more post-production processing and editing.  A Reuters spokesperson stated that their pictures "must reflect reality".

Both Reuters and the World Press Photo Foundation have made very public and very ontological statements about about a photograph is and what it represents. And perhaps more significantly, statements about what photographs should be; that is, they should represent a single, knowable (viewable) reality. At the same time, acknowledges that this reality can be distorted, "manipulated", and changed. 

For the World Press Photo, entrants are now reminded in the new code of ethics that they,

  1. Should be aware of the influence their presence can exert on a scene they photograph, and should resist being misled by staged photo opportunities.
  2. Must not intentionally contribute to, or alter, the scene they picture by re-enacting or staging events.
  3. Must maintain the integrity of the picture by ensuring there are no material changes to content.
  4. Must ensure captions are accurate.
  5. Must ensure the editing of a picture story provides an accurate and fair representation of its context.
  6. Must be open and transparent about the entire process through which their pictures are made, and be accountable to the World Press Photo Foundation for their practice.