Photojournalism Ethics

By Elizabeth Tomlinson

We have all been at home safe and relaxed watching the television when suddenly pictures from impoverished nations start playing across the screen with pleas for help. We are struck by the disturbing images that show a life so different from our own.

Photojournalism is a huge part of journalism that may speak to reader even more than the story itself. As people always say, a picture tells a thousand worlds. When you are trying to portray what you have uncovered while researching, a picture can say the things that are indescribable by the human language.

So what is ethical when it comes to use photos in journalism? The National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) lays out a specific code of ethics to live by when using photojournalism in your stories. It is important to represent what you are reporting accurately with your photos, not exaggerating them or underplaying them. It is also important that you make sure that what you are capturing in your photos are not staged events, but rather honest clips of what is happening in real life.

In today’s world of technology concerns for the accuracy of photojournalism have increased. It is not difficult these days to manipulate a picture to show something other than what was originally captured. Photographers do it all the time in magazines with models, perfecting their already flawless bodies, but it is not ethical to change your subjects when you are trying to tell a story about real life.

Another issue surrounding photojournalism today is that because people are able to access an abundance of information, they are no longer being affected as much by the pictures that they see. With violent movies and video games it no longer disturbs people to see gruesome shots of real people.

We are a desensitized nation, the youthful generations especially, so how do we get people to take notice of the news? Newspaper reading rates have plummeted, and now pictures are no longer having the effect that they once did. So what is the solution to getting people to care? There is no simple answer, but it is time that our generation starts realizing that people that are covered in the news are real, not from Hollywood, and it is time we start caring about our fellow human beings.

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