Photojournalism is like print journalism. Both are used to tell the story.
Photojournalism captures the scene with pictures rather than attempting to describe the scene with words – like print journalist do. Like print journalists, photojournalists have a set code of ethics, as established by the NPPA.
- Be accurate and comprehensive in the representation of subjects.
- Resist being manipulated by staged photo opportunities.
- Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups. Recognize and work to avoid presenting one’s own biases in the work.
- Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.
- Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation.
- Do not accept gifts, favors, or compensation from those who might seek to influence coverage.
As technology advances, so do the problems photo journalism is faced with. We all know now that staging, editing, or even paying for a particular shot is not ethical.
The NPPA says like journalists, photo journalists are expected to tell the truth, so any altercations to a picture isn’t representing what the full truth, much like if a fact error was in a print story.
The ethical question that isn’t answered completely by the code of ethics is; when is it right to take the picture?
Where do you draw the line for reporting versus rescuing?
When is it time to help the person?
For example, you’re a photojournalist in the midst of taking a picture, is it more important to capture what’s happening and inform others? You’re job is to be a journalist and tell the news – after all.
So, as a human being, do you help another human in need?
How much time will you use to capture the picture and thus capture the story before helping? Does situation and circumstances matter?