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Ethics in Photojournalism

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Jenn Abel

on 26 June 2014

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Transcript of Ethics in Photojournalism

Ethics in Photojournalism
Do I document this tragedy in a photo and share it with the world?
Do I act as a Good Samaritan and help the victim?
What does the situation call for?
What will society at large expect of me?
What will I expect of myself?
What will others think of me as I make this choice?
What would you do?
Newton, Julianne H.
Photojournalism Do people matter? Then photojournalism matters
Journalism Practice, Vol. 3, No 2, 2009, 233-243
Parsons, Patrick R.; Smith, William E.
R. Budd Dwyer: A Case Study in Newsroom Decision Making
Journal of Mass Media Ethics Vol 3, No 1. 84-94
Kelly, James D.; Kim, Yung Soo;
Public Reactions toward an Ethical Dilemma Faced by Photojournalists: Examining the Conflict between Acting as a Dispassionate Observer and Acting as a “Good Samaritan”
J&MC Quarterly Vol. 87, No. 1 Spring 2010, 23-40
Bugeja, M.,
Living Ethics: Developing Values in Mass Communication
(1996) Allyn and Bacon
Campbell, R., Jensen, J., Gomery, D., Fabos, B., Frechette, J. (2014)
Media in Society
Boston/New York Bedford/St. Martin’s p69-77
Borden, Sandra L;
Choice Processes in a Newspaper Ethics Case
Communication Monographs, Vol. 64, March 1996
Husselbee, L. Paul; Adams, Any Ann
Seeking instructional value: Publication of disturbing images in small community newspapers
Newspaper Research Journal Vol. 17, No. 3-4 Summer/Fall 1996
Mitchell, J. (2000).
The Ethics of Photojournalism; Studies in Christian Ethics.
Kienzler, Donna S;
Visual Ethics
Journal of Business Communication 1997, Vol. 34, pg 171-187
Carlson, Matt;
The Reality of a Fake Image; News norms, photojournalist craft, and Brian Walski’s fabricated photograph
Journalism Practice, Vol 3, No 2, 2009, 125-139

Photo manipulation/Telling the truth in a photo
What to print
What does a photojournalist do with what she sees
My dilemma
A photojournalist has the responsibility of portraying the truth in an image just like a reporter must tell the truth in his story.
"'Art', which filters reality, here masqueraded as 'truth' without being adequately identified for the readers."
Photo manipulation makes it difficult to tell if something actually happened or if it happened in the way it was photographed.
Context can include the way the photo or image was made; who made it and why; the historical circumstances under which it was made; the extent to which the image was circulated, altered and reconfigured; and the way the image continues to be interpreted and reinterpreted by individuals and publics.
An altered image can be powerful - but it is not truthful.
"People make photographs. Photographs lie in all the ways people do."
"In a time when anyone can make anyone appear to do anything in a realistic looking image, will a profession whose mission is to show the world toitself continue?"
Photos impact memory
State treasurer in Pennsylvania in 1987
Convicted of accepting bribes
Called a press conference to give his resignation
pulled out a .357 Magnum, put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger
R. Budd Dwyer
All while the press was filming
how much do they show on TV and in the news?
"What justification, the press asked itself, was there for bringing the bloody suicide footage into the family living room?"
April 1996
5 Ohio University students
Fatal car accident (canvas top Jeep Wrangler - rolled 5 times - thrown 50-100 feet from vehicle)
No seat belts
Blood-Alcohol twice the legal limit
The Post - University Independent paper - published a controversial photo
Criticism from the community
The paper published the image for it's instructional value.
Drunk driving + no seat belts = lives tragically lost - think next time before you get behind the wheel.
Newsworthy vs. shock value
When the paper explained the reasoning behind posting the picture the community wasn't so angry.
"Police officers at the scene of the accident told a Post reporter that the deaths could have been avoided if seat belts had been used. They stressed that the Jeep could be driven from the scene. The instructional value was evident in this case."
The Herald-Times, Bloomington, Indiana
Friedman family asked paper not to publish a photo of the accident that killed their 23 year old son, Brian.
Who influences the decision to run a photo?
Initial reaction is to deny the request
Did not run the photo - the images were not compelling enough to tell a story. "The photo director asked if the paper would have run the photo absent the family's objection. The answer: 'Maybe.'"
What to print
Photo Manipulation/Telling the truth in a photo
What do I do with what I saw?
certain acts are absolutely right or wrong
greater good for the greater number is of paramount importance.
Example: accident caused by a drunk driver
Absolutist will respect the privacy of the victims family and try to avoid any additional stress.
Utilitarian will publish photos to alert society to the dangers of drunk driving to contribute to a solution
Kevin Carter
The photo exists in the present tense. Carter's photo begs the viewer to act. Why then was it met with such public critique as unethical?
Because it worked
. People
- horror, empathy, anger. But without the ability to act, without the necessary political apparatus to do
, so many turned, as in ancient Greece, and attacked the messenger.
Does this image open or close the hearts of its audience to compassion?
Does this picture seduce people into a vague ‘self-trip’ of nice feelings, or does it point them to an encounter with mystery?
Does it serve the spirit of poverty/humility that knows its own vulnerability, or does it foster infantile fantasies of various kinds – power, pleasure, etc.?
What quality of looking it evokes – voyeuristic, or stunned, humble silence?
Where does this picture lead the audience: towards spiritual freedom or towards stereotyped immersion in familiar images and reactions?
Behind these questions lies the hope that being part of a worshiping Christian community will help us transform the way in which we see and imagine.”
My pictures need to entice the audience to find out the whole story. They need to see that there is more to a photograph than just the subject.
In order to interact with something on an ethical level, it is imperative to know what it is.
So, what is photojournalism?
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