Ethical Considerations Scenarios:
Read the following scenarios and answer the following questions as both a photographer and photo editor. Post the answers in the blog section.
1. Photographer: You are working with a reporter on a story about a coach who holds some national records for weightlifting. You still need a shot of him working out, so you arrange to meet him at the gym and take pictures of him lifting weights just as he normally does. Make an argument for running your photo.
Photo editor: Do you run this set-up photo? Why or why not? I would run this photo because it is not illegal, and I also have permission.
2. Photographer: A baby left in a locked car died from the heat. You heard about it on a police scanner and were able to get a picture of the policeman taking the baby out of the car.
Photo editor: Do you run this as a warning to other parents? Why or why not? No. I would not run this photo because the baby’s body is over heated and could have blisters. I would ask the family first.
3. Photographer: A fire escape collapses during a fire, plunging a woman to her death. A child who also falls miraculously survived. You get a picture of them in mid-air, just as the fire escape gives way. The photo is a potential Pulitzer Prize winner.
Photo editor: Do you run this photo of a woman falling to her death? Why or why not? I would run this photo because I’m capturing it on a public street. It is not private, and the firefighters and police officers are already on site.
4. Photographer: A woman takes off her clothes in protest of being denied entrance to a building. You get a picture of her protest.
Photo editor: Do you run this photo of a nude woman? Why or why not? No. I would not run this photo because she is naked, and that would be disturbing.
5. Photographer: During a news conference, an important political figure makes an obscene gesture at some hecklers in the crowd. You take the picture and turn it into your editor.
Photo editor: This is definitely newsworthy but potentially offensive. Do you run it? Why or why not? Yes. I would run this photo because they invited me to the news conference to take photos. I am doing my job and not breaking any laws. I could show the public what was happening, good or bad.
6. Photographer: A man notifies the press that a newsworthy event will be taking place at a certain time and location. He makes a statement protesting a government action, then douses himself with gasoline and lights a match. You get some dramatic pictures of the event, potential prize winners.
Photo editor: Should you run the picture because it’s newsworthy or deny the protester the publicity he was seeking? Explain your decision. I would run this photo because he gave me permission to. Although it would not be right, I would run this photo because it is not breaking a photographer and journalism law.
7. Photographer: You photograph a family grieving over their son who drowned in a local canal. You capture them at the moment the authorities unzip the body bag for them to make identification of him.
Photo editor: Do you run this to urge other families to be cautious or respect the privacy of their grief? I would respect the privacy of their grief because it’s disrespectful and invading privacy. They have not yet identified him. They only found the body. I would ask the family or examiners if I could take the picture.
8. Photographer: You photograph two students exchanging money and a bag of something. You realize this would be a great photo to go with a story your staff is doing on drugs on campus.
Photo editor: Do you run this? Why or why not? Yes. I would run this because the photograph is actually happening on campus, and students/teachers can actually believe this is going on. Although, it may not be drugs in the bag, the picture will make it seem like it’s something “private/sneaky,” and students/teachers would need to look out for that.