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The second chapter describes current ethical practices through specific case studies. The third and final chapter builds upon the first two and uses technology and policy to examine the trajectory of photojournalistic ethics. Thesis Supervisor: Edward Barrett.
Senior Lecturer, Department of Writing. Thesis Supervisor: B. Lecturer, Department of Writing. Biographical Note. Daniel Bersak was born in Ipswich, England in Eventually, he rose to the position of photo editor, and he began taking freelance assignments. There are many people without whom I never could have completed this thesis. I would like to thank B.
Colen and Ed Barrett for mentoring me, for being on my thesis committee, and ultimately for accepting my defense of this thesis. I also owe a debt of gratitude to the professors who have helped me along the way. Turk, and Ted Selker have all contributed a great deal. I am fortunate to have an amazing collection of family and friends.
My parents, Robert and Toby, and my sister Carrie provided love, support, and proofreading. My dog Fred did his part as well, making sure I got plenty of walks, and recovering anything I happened to throw in frustration. She has read every draft of this document, and never once failed to improve it.
She has taken care of me in every way possible, and without her I truly never could have finished. News images shape our culture in ways both profound and deep. Those who lived through the Vietnam era cannot help but remember the searing photographs that have come to symbolize that conflict -- a Saigon street execution, a naked girl covered in napalm, a thousand-yard stare, and so on. These photos have woven themselves into the collective memory of a generation.
There are some who would even say that the mounting weight of photographic evidence was the primary cause for public opinion to shift against the war in Vietnam, and hence effected an end to the war itself. Photographic and video images can reveal great truths, expose wrongdoing and neglect, inspire hope and understanding and connect people around the globe through the language of visual understanding.
Photographs can also cause great harm if they are callously intrusive or are manipulated. The Code of Ethics goes on to detail what is and is not acceptable in professional photojournalism. Though the standards may seem fairly crystalized, every day there are challenging borderline cases.
Considering that photography itself is barely years old, one might wonder how these particular ethical guidelines came to be, and how they may be evolving over time. As a topic, 'ethics in photojournalism' is difficult to approach, or even to define. What exactly qualifies as photojournalism? The answer is somewhat hazy. If photojournalism is photography plus journalism, what is journalism?
Princeton University's WordNet defines 'journalism' as, "The profession of reporting or photographing or editing news stories for one of the media. That man Charles H. Porter IV was employed as a utility worker and not as a newspaper photographer at the time. Ethics is an inherently subjective field. Can he alter it, in the darkroom or otherwise? For example, the distinction between ethics and taste is constantly up for debate, especially in relation to violent or sexual imagery.
Additionally, photojournalistic ethics might encompass the choices an individual photographer makes while shooting. For example, should a war photographer put down his cameras in order to help an injured soldier? If someone asks that his or her photo not be taken, is it ethical to photograph that person anyway?
Some of these questions sit on the line between journalistic ethics and professionalism. In his book Photojournalism: An Ethical Approach , California State University Fullerton Professor Paul Martin Lester outlines six ethical philosophies intended to help photographers and editors answer questions like those outlined above:.
That editor should consider whether he would publish the image under different circumstances - if the subject was male, or elderly, or obese. The Categorical imperative says that what goes for one should go for everyone. Utilitarianism as a philosophy attempts to weigh positives and negatives of a situation, and maximize the good for the greatest number of people. Publishing a provocative front page photo simply for the sake of selling newspapers would be an example of hedonism. The Golden Mean philosophy concerns compromise.
If there is a less intrusive, offensive, or disagreeable photo that still tells the story, that is the better option.
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The emphasis is on finding middle ground rather than an all-or-nothing approach. The Veil of Ignorance asks the photographer or editor to consider how they would feel if they were the subject.
The Ethics of Subjectivity
I find all of these philosophies, as well as the questions above them, compelling because I am a photojournalist. I have worked for small local newspapers and large international wire services. I have covered professional sports, politics, entertainment, general and breaking news, and everything in between. In order to illuminate the issues noted above I have used my experience to narrow the field of photojournalistic ethics to a manageable breadth. A comprehensive survey of ethics in photojournalism, even if possible, would require thousands of pages and many years of work.
In this thesis I will examine the trajectory over time of ethics in American photojournalism. To that end, I have chosen to study photojournalism as published in major newspapers and magazines. While photojournalism does exist well outside of that classification, it is beyond the scope of this thesis. The underlying tenets of ethical news imagery are roughly consistent across international markets, however practices can vary widely from region to region and from country to country.
I am limiting this examination by focusing only on American photojournalism ethics. Likewise, I have chosen to divide ethics into two categories - institutional ethics and photographer-centric ethics. The policies of a particular newspaper or magazine would fall under institutional ethics. For example, if a newspaper chooses not to publish an image for fear it is too graphic, that is an issue of institutional ethics or taste and I will discuss the differences between the two later in this thesis.
Whether or not to pose a subject, the question regarding what to do with a wounded soldier in combat, and how a photographer treats an image in the darkroom or in the computer are all matters of photographer-centric ethics. Up to this point I have taken for granted the fact that there is an ethical system at work in American photojournalism. Since photography itself is only about years old, this was not always the case. In the first chapter I will examine visual imagery in newspapers and magazines dating back to before those publications included photographs. I will also trace the history, evolution, and availability of photographic equipment, and tie this progression to the emerging ethical system.
In the second chapter, I will discuss ethics in photojournalism as they exist today.
The Ethics of Subjectivity: Perspectives since the Dawn of Modernity
I will discuss the role of the National Press Photographers Association in defining and enforcing ethics within the American photojournalism community. I will also examine contemporary case studies that have stretched journalistic ethics both institutionally and per the individual photographer. I will draw upon my own experience as a photographer during the Boston Red Sox American League Championship Series riots, and analyze the capture and use of my photos.
For the final chapter I will look at where photojournalism is going with respect to journalistic ethics.
When the London subway was bombed during the summer of , photo departments the world over were bombarded with images. As mobile devices become widely adopted, sorting through these images in real time will be both more important and more difficult. As of this writing, photography is still less than two hundred years old. It is fairly obvious that no ethical system could exist for any sort of photojournalism before photography was invented.
This might appear to suggest an acceptable date from which to begin studying ethics in American photojournalism - why not start at the beginning of photography?
Gerasimos Kakoliris | National & Kapodistrian University of Athens - aludriremes.gq
The New York Times , for example, did not publish photos until Gallery exhibitions and magic lantern shows were held in France and the United States, and books of photographs were published. Though The New York Times printed its first photographs in a Sunday Magazine in , the newspaper was not without visual imagery before then. Though photography was known to many people and gaining popularity as an art form at the time, newspapers lacked the technology and therefore the ability to include photographic images as part of their reportage.