Photojournalism: Powerful Evidence of the Facts?

          Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism that creates images in order to tell a news story. Most of the time, photos accompanied by news stories and sometimes photos could tell a story words cannot, and lead audiences to think deeply.

          The situation implied by the photos is a fair and accurate representation of the events they depict in both content and tone. Photos combine with other news elements to make facts relatable to readers as well. However, photos are not only providing truth, but also manipulate readers’ viewpoint.

            Some photos already have become widely known, such as photojournalist Joe Rosenthal’s work . This image has given to American people great courage and encouragement during the WWII. “In that moment, Rosenthal’s camera recorded the soul of a nation.”  US Camera Magazine said. 


             However, this famous single image of the war, in fact, was embroiled in a controversy. Joe Rosenthal’s photograph of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima was an immediate sensation, but soon after, a Time-Life correspondent accused Rosenthal of staging the photo, and Time Magazine’s radio show reported that Rosenthal arrived too late for the shot and “could not resist reposing his characters in historic fashion.” Time later retracted the story, but public doubt lingered for decades.

             Photo manipulation is in connection with photojournalism ethics: sometimes the event which was described in image could be untruthful.

            Photo manipulation has been regularly used to deceive or persuade viewers, or for improved story-telling. In order to achieve propaganda purposes, photojournalists could post-process their photographs. This behavior raise a new concern: are photo-ops facts or fictions?

             Now that photojournalism had emerged as such an important force in news reporting; however, photo manipulation provoked a major ethical controversy. The year after Rosenthal’s photo, the National Press Photographers Association was formed. Today, it remains the most influential arbiter on ethical issues in photojournalism.

            Meanwhile, the public also needs to consider photojournalism: the truth photojournalists provided and those they did not, and then public can give it a fair assessment.

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