In the Beginning…

Photojournalism ethics is a major concern in today’s media.

The “New” Media Debate:

When you are in media management, you hold to reigns not only to what information people get, but how they get it, in what order they see or hear it and sometimes how they feel about it. 

With issues like this to weigh along with countless others, including but not nearly limited to, upper –management pressure, ratings pressures, employee pressure, how is a manager to deal when it comes to performance. 

Managers are expected create and present top-notch broadcasts, newsprint, telecasts, and web posts among many other types of media.  It is not surprising that a growing number of what many call ‘violations of ethics’ in the editing process are cropping up across all mediums of media.

With increasing ease, editors, photographers, and just about any Joe-shmo can open up Photoshop and wreak havoc on the ethics of hardworking journalists.  Where in the distant past that honor was left up to the highly skilled, extremely patient hands of manipulative, trained photo developers. 

Well, some might ask, “What’s so wrong with wanting to print, show and publish the best looking photos we can.  It looks good and it wasn’t changed that much?” 

But changed still the same, even toning photos for some publications without disclosure can come with a very high price, the price of your job. 


What is right and what is wrong?

Doctoring photos has quite literally, whether the average person knows it or not, been around since the advent of the camera.  It becomes not a question of if a photo has been manipulated (because most of them will be in someway) but of how much and does it change the original image so that the photo is no longer portraying the ‘truth.’ 

It becomes an issue of

‘Ethics’ vs. ‘Aesthetics’, 

‘Art’ vs. ‘Journalism’. 

If something is “ethical” by definition it is “conforming to professional standards of conduct” those standards are the ethics themselves, or “a set of moral principles or values.”

According to Jerry Lodriguss, it is “a fundamental fact that we usually forget… that when we take a picture we do not make a perfectly objective recording of reality.  What we make is an interpretation of reality.  There is no film or digital camera that perfectly and accurately records nature even on this simple level.”

Often times, for the individual and the personal, or even, professional photographer ‘photoshopping’ is no big deal.  It is a little bit different for a media manager.  They have to walk that thin line of portraying the truth of the scene, what actually happened, what it physically looked like, so that those that are learning about it through that managers organization are getting the truth, as best they can present.



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