One of the theoretical models that underpin the study of ethics in journalism is Duty Based Moral Theory that perceives ethics as a moral responsibility. In this case, journalists have the obligation to uphold the moral responsibility of which they must not distort any information or content whatsoever. The call to observe ethical responsibility with regard to manipulation of information also borrow a lot from the philosophical thoughts of Immanuel Kant as one of the important contributors to ethical thinking. According to Kant, human beings should freely observe rules as a way of enhancing morality in the society. In this case, designer journalists should observe the ethical codes of conducts as the rules that govern their moral behaviors and this applies to distortion of images.
Another useful theoretical underpinning of ethical issues in the society is a communitarian theory that came into existence thanks to critical thinking of Goodwyn Barmby. The community or society has the right to information and holds the media responsible for enlightening the public. An ethical issue that might arise when using too much Photoshop is hiding crucial information from the public. A design journalist while manipulating an image may delete some parts thus hiding crucial information from the public. Therefore, the communitarian theory holds that it is unethical to hide crucial information from the public. The philosophy, thus, brings into question the level of obligation that designer have concerning information sharing with the public.