Published on February 27, 2014
Warning: This presentation contains graphic content. ! Photographs remain copyrighted by the original photographers and are used for illustrative purposes only.
All I Needed to Know About Photojournalism Ethics, I Learned in Kindergarten ! Presented by Bradley Wilson, Ph.D. Midwestern State University
Ethics: An Age-Old Discussion Ethical issues may pit the photographer’s professional duties against his or her own conscience. Ken Kobré
Discussion on ethics “Every day, every edition, we face challenging decisions. We know that many of the calls we make in a few minutes on deadline can have a lifelong eﬀect for someone, particularly a subject of a story. We consider it an awesome responsibility.” David Boardman Seattle Times
Discussion on ethics “Although many editors found the images [of 9/11] disturbing, the overwhelming reason for publishing them was that they added to the visual storytelling about what happened during and after the terrorists attacks. Many editors believed that readers needed to be exposed to the disturbing images in order to fully understand the story of the day.” Renee Martin Kratzer and Brian Kratzer “How Newspapers Decided to Run Disturbing 9/11 Photos” Newspaper Research Journal, Winter 2003
Digital Ethics: Evolving Standards 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. John Long
Sports Illustrated, December, 2012
Sports Illustrated, on Nov. 26, 2012, altered the color of the jerseys in the football players at Baylor University. In which of the following photograph types would you accept this computer editing change? 30.6 Never 34.91 40.83 2.49 Hard news 1.89 2.5 8.54 Feature 11.32 11.67 30.6 Illustration 29.25 25.83 27.76 Always 22.64 19.17 0 Professionals (n=285) College students/advisers (n=108) High school students/advisers (n=120) 10 20 30 Percent 40 50
Photo by John Tlumacki Boston: Another Study in Tragedy I always wondered what it would be like when I see photographers covering this stuﬀ all over the world. It’s haunting to be a journalist and have to cover it. I don’t ever want to have to do that again. John Tlumacki !
Boston: Another Study in Tragedy Research questions: What are the ethical standards both in terms of what can and should be documented and published and how? How far is too far when it comes to the digital manipulation of spot news images?
Online, huﬃngtonpost.com ran the image with no alteration. Was this acceptable? 87.06 Yes 87.7 12.94 No 12.3 t = 0.24 p > 0.05 no diﬀerence between professionals and nonphotographers 0 25 50 Percent Professionals (n=285) Non-photographers (n=122) 75 100
The Philadelphia Inquirer was one of the many news publications that chose to crop the image as it was used on page 1 of the April 16 print edition. Was this acceptable? 85.96 Yes 88.52 14.04 No 11.48 t = 0.88 p > 0.05 no diﬀerence between professionals and nonphotographers 0 25 50 Percent Professionals (n=285) Non-photographers (n=122) 75 100
Online, the atlantic.com ran the image with Jeﬀ Bauman’s face blurred. Was this acceptable? 42.75 Yes 58.68 57.25 No 41.32 t = 4.41 p < 0.001* signiﬁcant diﬀerence between professionals and non-photographers 0 25 50 Percent Professionals (n=285) Non-photographers (n=122) 75 100
In addition, theatlantic.com later added a disclaimer. Should the website have added this disclaimer? 68.9 Yes 76.52 31.1 No 23.48 t = 1.07 p > 0.05 no diﬀerence between professionals and nonphotographers 0 25 50 Percent Professionals (n=285) Non-photographers (n=122) 75 100
Online, huﬃngtonpost.com ran this image with no alteration. Was this acceptable? 91.92 Yes 88.43 8.07 No 11.57 t = 1.14 p > 0.05 no diﬀerence between professionals and nonphotographers 0 25 50 Percent Professionals (n=285) Non-photographers (n=122) 75 100
In print, the New York Daily News ran an altered version of the image with the leg injury on the left removed. Was this acceptable? 18.21 Yes 33.91 81.79 No 66.09 t = 3.33 p > 0.001 signiﬁcant diﬀerence between professionals and non-photographers 0 25 50 Percent Professionals (n=285) Non-photographers (n=122) 75 100
5 Q20 How appropriate is it to do the following types of computer adjustment to news photographs that appear on the front page or in the news section of your local daily newspaper? 4 3 2 1 0 Cropping All High School College Professional Color correction Removing distracting elements Removing larger objects Adding/Removing people Moving objects 0 = never 3 = sometimes 5 = always
Q21 “Accurate representation is the benchmark of our profession. We believe photojournalistic guidelines for fair and accurate reporting should be the criteria for judging what may be done electronically to a photograph.” 100 95.45 92.44 80 60 40 t = 2.06 p < 0.05* signiﬁcant diﬀerence between professionals and college; small eﬀect size 20 0 Professional Non-photographers
Q23 “Adhere to the principle of reproducing photos that represent reality. Documentary news and feature photos should not be manipulated.” 100 95.04 85.95 80 60 40 t = 3.84 p < 0.001* signiﬁcant diﬀerence between professionals and college 20 0 Professionals Non-photographers
Q24 “Altered images should be obviously false to the reader.” 100 80 83.51 66.1 60 40 t = 3.96 p < 0.001* signiﬁcant diﬀerence between professionals and college 20 0 Professionals Non-photographers
Q25 “Any manipulations should simply include routine cropping, color correction to restore the color balance to what appeared in the actual scene, or dodging/burning to improve reproduction quality.” 100 95.77 91.74 80 60 40 20 0 Professionals Non-photographers
Q26 “Readers should know that an image was altered.” 100 90.32 85.71 80 60 40 20 0 Professionals Non-professionals
Q27 “The highest and strictest standards should be applied to hard-news photographs.” 100 99.29 95.04 80 60 40 20 0 Professionals Non-photographers
Q29 “Do you have any company policies that would limit the amount of alteration in an image?” 100 80 60 40 40.84 31.95 35.14 20 0 17.65 All High School College Professional
Conclusions Non-photographers are more tolerant of digital manipulation than professional photographers. • Manipulation should be obviously false. • Manipulation of spot news images should be minimized and generally kept to what it takes to improve reproduction quality. • Editors are gatekeepers but in light of evolving technology, street photojournalists need to be trained as editors. •
Conclusions Companies, colleges and universities and schools need to discuss and to adopt policies regarding photojournalistic ethics — in advance of incidents. • Discussing all the facets of ethical decision making is still a worthy endeavor. •
Conclusions While speciﬁc ethics changes from profession to profession, their foundation does not. The foundation is basic, simple honesty, the kind you learn in kindergarten: Don’t tell us stories about things that didn’t happen. Don’t show us things that don’t exist. Ben Brink |“Question of Ethics: Where Does Honesty inPhotojournalism Begin?” News Photographer | July 1988
By Bradley Wilson, PhD Midwestern State University email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @bradleywilson09 ©2014
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