Photojournalism is the use of photographs in conjunction with the reporting of news in media such as print newspapers, magazines, televisions and internet reporting. It is believed that of all the image-making technologies, it is the photograph that brought journalism to another level. As a choice of news relay, photographs acts as a medium for journalist to reach its audience (Zelizer, 2005, pp.168). The public see images as evidence with the news. This is because photographs are thought to confirm the truth as it provides depiction of the world as it is, offering solid facts and comprehensibility. Thus, images help to sway the public’s mind (Zelizer, 2005, pp.172)
However, post-modernist rejected the idea that a photograph only directs us to a singular truth. In fact, there are multiple “truths” that an image can tell. It is believed that an image can only be frame subjectively and not objectively.
This week’s entry, I have decided to investigate on the ethical issues of photojournalism as both are the very hard and core of its constitution.
Photography has always been driven by technology. The quality of the image has improved vastly with better lighting, sharper focus, and lush color as photojournalists began using digital photography. As a result, the images are not always shown in a way that matches their initial shooting.
“One of the major problems we face as photojournalists is the fact that the public is losing faith in us. Our readers and viewers no longer believe everything they see. All images are called into question because the computer has proved that images are malleable, changeable, and fluid. In movies, advertisements, TV shows, magazines, we are constantly exposed to images created or changed by computers.”
(Ethics in the Age of Digital Photography: Credibility)
One good example I would like to illustrate is a photo tampered by the editors at el Nuevo Herald.
According to the National Press Photographers Association, it is said that the fake photograph came from two separate pictures combined together making the image seemed as if the police in Cuba were ignoring prostitution. The caption reads, “The government has proven incapable of confronting the dramatic phenomenon of prostitution.”
Humberto Castello, el Nuevo Herald’s executive editor apologized for publishing the fake photograph without a headline that would tell readers the picture was a montage. However, none of the workers had been fired for creating or publishing the fake photograph.
This of course was a big issue because according to NPPA past President Alicia Wagner Calzada, news must be presented in high ethical standards which only print the truth and nothing but. This is to stop newspaper firms to lose all credibility amongst peers, subjects, advertisers and most importantly, their readers.
To summarize all this, I believe that pictures and writings act as an important role in defining the truth. This is because images together with its narrative components of the story evoke almost immediate emotional responses among viewers which combine to educate, entertain and persuade. However, if visuals are misused, it can offend, mislead and stereotype which will eventually raise ethical issues.
Barthes, R. (1981). Camera Lucida: Reflection on photography. In R. Howard. New York.
Collins, R. (n.d.). A Brief History of Photography and Photojournalism. Retrieved november 3, 2010, from www.ndsu.edu: http://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~rcollins/242photojournalism/historyofphotography.html
Ethics in the Age of Digital Photography: Credibility. (n.d.). Retrieved november 3, 2010, from www.nppa.org: http://www.nppa.org/professional_development/self-training_resources/eadp_report/credibility.html
Paul Martin Lester, P. (n.d.). Photojournalism Ethics Timeless Issues. Retrieved november 3, 2010, from commfaculty.fullerton.edu: http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/lester/writings/photoethics.html
Winslow, D. R. (2006, august 2). A question of truth: photojournalism and visual ethics. Retrieved november 3, 2010, from www.nppa.org: http://www.nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2006/08/ethics.html
Zelizer, B. (2005). Journalism through the camera's eyes. In S. Allan, Journalism: Critical Issues. (pp. 167-176). Berkshire: Open University Press.