We are visual creatures and tend to believe things that we see more than what we hear. In our visually flooded world we take for granted still, to a large extent, the accuracy or honesty of the things that we see. Take a read from some of the numerous articles and studies that show how manipulated those visuals are especially in the commercial world but also in the editorial one too. Watch this excellent look by the New York Times at the lengths that advertisers as well as magazines go to in order to make their images look perfect. Sex Lies and Photoshop
But even "news" images aren't totally honest as the moments shown are picked by the photographer just by the capture and subsequent editing process. The photographer chose to make each photograph in the way that they did, angle, moment and such, and then to pick particular ones to upload to their publications. Even if the image in question isn't showing anything that didn't happen there are always little moments that actually happened but don't tell the whole story that went down.
Here is an example. I was at an awards thing-y and it there was this guy who was sitting to the side of the platform and he was apparently having a good time – lots of smiling, laughing at the funny stories and all that. Then he briefly looked down, click!, and then went back to having a good time. This moment happened but if I were to select that moment from one where there were a load of happy and enthused people, including him, can you believe that it honestly represents the event or even him?
I try very hard to show my subjects in an even light. I may have a great looking frame but if it isn't an honest representation of what happened I don't send it so that an editor won't misunderstand the image and run it. The honesty chain starts with the shutter button. I take that pretty seriously as you can tell. We all need to demand as photographers and most importantly as consumers that the images that we are fed are not reconstructed to suit a particular agenda. Even if that agenda is our own.