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The ethics of Photojournalism


From the code of ethics of the NPPA Treat all subjects with respect and ... a police officer is speaking to a crowd of newsmen saying it would be a good idea if ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The ethics of Photojournalism

The ethics of Photojournalism
  • By
  • Somrita
  • Vicky C G P

What is photojournalism?
  • Photojournalism is a particular form of
    journalism (collecting, editing and presenting of
    news material for publication or broadcast) that
    creates images in order to tell a news story. It
    is now generally understood to refer only to
    still images, and in some cases to video used in
    broadcast journalism. Photojournalism is
    distinguished from other close branches of
    photography (like documentary photography, street
    photography or celebrity photography) by the
    quality of timeliness, objectivity and narrative.

  • If a photographer is asked to photograph a
    protest rally for a political cause supported by
    the photographer. The photographer wants the
    protesters to look as complimentary as possible.
    At the scene, there are 10 protesters out of an
    expected 500. The photographer has two technical
    choices use a wide-angle lens to show how few
    protesters are present or use a telephoto lens to
    focus on an individual who carries a sign. With
    such a technique, the size of the protest group
    in the photograph will be ambiguous.

Photojournalism as a profession
  • Cliff Edom (1976), one of the most well respected
    photojournalism educators in the United States,
    credited Frank Mott, dean of the Journalism
    School at the University of Missouri, with
    inventing the term, photojournalism. In 1942,
    Mott helped establish a separate academic
    sequence for photojournalism instruction. For the
    first time, photojournalism was considered "as
    important to the field of communication" as its
    word equivalent.

  • A journalist tells stories. A photographer takes
    pictures of nouns (people, places and things). A
    photojournalist takes the best of both and locks
    it into the most powerful medium available-frozen
    images. Photojounalism basically captures the
    verb. But if we compare them with the journalist
    they have to face lots of problems.

Categories of issues
  • Hidden cameras,
  • Posed or re-enacted shots
  • Shockingly gruesome pictures
  • Sexually offensive images
  • Invasions of privacy
  • Whether to take a picture or help a subject in
    trouble etc

  • Some of the important photographs

Joe Rosenthal's Flag
  • An Associated Press photographer, 33-year-old Joe
    Rosenthal, made three photographs atop Suribachi,
    a Japanese observation post on the island of Iwo
    Jima in 1945. His first picture became the most
    reproduced photograph in history and won for him
    a Pulitzer Prize. His second picture, although
    similar to the first, did not capture a dramatic
    moment and was forgotten by history. His third
    photograph became the source of accusations that
    the first photograph had been set up

  • The most reproduced photograph in history

Vietnam War 1968
  • Huynh Cong Ut's photograph of Kim Phuc and other
    children injured in an accidental napalm attack

Vietnam War 1968
  • Eddie Adams' photo of General Nguyen Loan, the
    chief of police for the city of Saigon shooting a
    Viet Cong assassin in the head.

From the code of ethics of the NPPA
  • Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give
    special consideration to vulnerable subjects and
    compassion to victims of crime or tragedy.
    Intrude on private moments of grief only when the
    public has an overriding and justifiable need to

Chronological list of a few famous cases
  • Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Fidel Castro
    routinely indulged in photographic manipulation
  • 1982 National Geographic cover

Bhopal Gas Tragedy
1994 cover of Time magazine featuring OJ Simpson
  • TIME was making an editorial statement, not
    reporting the news.
  • They presented what looked like a real photograph
    and it turned out not to be real the public felt
    deceived, and rightly so. By doing this, TIME
    damaged their credibility and the credibility of
    all journalists.

From the code of ethics of the NPPA
  • Be complete and provide context when
    photographing or recording subjects. Avoid
    stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize
    and work to avoid presenting ones own biases in
    the work.
  • While photographing subjects do not intentionally
    contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or
    influence events.
  • Editing should maintain the integrity of the
    photographic images content and context. Do not
    manipulate images or add or alter sound in any
    way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent

Kevin Carters photograph of Sudan Famine
Gujarat Riots 2002
Gujarat Riots 2002
  • Qutubuddin Ansari pleads for his life in a
    photograph that became the face of faceless
    masses affected by the Gujarat Riots

Khushboos Maximus Affair
  • 2006 August Adnan Hajjs doctored photographs
    show up on Reuters

  • Adnan Hajjs second doctored photograph
  • Also improperly captioned

Examples of staged photographs
From the NPPAs code of ethics
  • Photojournalists and those who manage visual news
    productions are accountable for upholding the
    following standards in their daily work
  • Be accurate and comprehensive in the
    representation of subjects.
  • Resist being manipulated by staged photo
  • While photographing subjects do not intentionally
    contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or
    influence events.
  • Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from
    those who might seek to influence coverage.
  • The coverage of the Israel Lebanon conflict gave
    rise to the term fauxtography (trivia,not in
    the code of ethics)

  • 2006 November Vasundhara Raje Kiran Mazumdar
    Lip lock

  • 2009 February Vanity Fairs photograph of Heath
    Ledger and Christopher Nolan

  • Journalists have only one thing to offer the
    public and that is credibility. Credibility is
    the only thing that enables journalism to be
    called a profession and not a business
  • Credibility - some questions to ask
  • In what Context is the photo being used?
  • Is the photograph a Fair and Accurate
    Representation of the information being
  • Does this photograph Deceive the reader?
  • All of the above are John Longs ideas NPPA
    Ethics Co-Chair and Past President in 1999

Classic Ethical Case Study
  • A photographer is assigned to cover a
    fundamentalist organisations demonstration in a
    city park. When he arrives, a police officer is
    speaking to a crowd of newsmen saying it would be
    a good idea if they left. He says, "Some
    fundamentalists are going to be staging a
    counter-demonstration and we're afraid the
    presence of the press will encourage violence."
    Some of the newsmen leave but the photographer
    stays. Violence does erupt and the photographer
    is later awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his
    images depicting the fighting.

Some questions related to the case study
  • Should a photographer stay at the scene of a
    demonstration despite his presence possibly
    inciting violence?
  • Should a photographer give up news reporting
    responsibilities because of the recommendation of
    a police office?
  • What is more important? truth telling or law and

Incidents that can be discussed
  • Abu gharib
  • Somalia
  • Iraq invasion
  • Gujarat Riots
  • Veerappans dead body