Ethics of Photojournalism

Photojournalism, like print journalism, is used to tell a news story. Its purpose is to preserve events. Photojournalism has the advantage of capturing a scene with pictures rather than attempting to describe a scene with words. Viewers are able to experience the visuals of a moment without having to physically be there or imagine it based off a reading.

Photojournalism is a more specific type of photography.  Because photojournalism is a branch of journalism, it is to be timely and accurate. Photojournalists report the facts through photographs.

Like journalists, photojournalists and the National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA) have developed a code of ethics.  This code consists of nine ethical standards. Photographs should not be edited to be taken out of context. Subjects are to be respected. When taking the photographs, photojournalists should not intentionally influence the events they are capturing.

Over time, new technology has caused photojournalism to have the potential to be corrupted. Software programs can alter photographs.  Altering photographs can change the context or meaning of a picture.  When a photograph is edited, the viewer is not getting the facts.

Examples of unethical photojournalism can be found on the internet even with the most basic search.  Take this picture for example. Chinese farmer Zhou Zhenglong supposedly took photographs of a nearly extinct wild South China Tiger.

Later, investigations reported the photograph released to the public was a fake. The fake photograph appears to be taken from this poster.

Zhenglong violated the code of ethics because he altered the photos. He staged an event that never occured.

Viewers rely on photojournalists for the facts. Why do photojournalists violate the code of ethics? How do you feel when you discover altered photos?

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One Response to Ethics of Photojournalism

  1. Pingback: A day in the life of a Photojournalist. « Alexander Acosta Osorio

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