Why Media Literacy Matters – Quality journalism and ethics, part 2

Journalists must not mislead.

Whether through words or images, they must always tell the truth.

In my previous post, I talked about ethics and why journalists must not manipulate their images.

People see the world, through the images and the stories presented by the media. The public has given journalists their trust and therefore they cannot mislead them.

The Washington Post photograph as it appeared on the Post web site (above) and as it was entered in the WHNPA contest (below).

The Washington Post photograph as it appeared on the Post web site (above) and as it was entered in the WHNPA contest (below).

Earlier this week, the White House News Photographers Association released a statement saying that they would disqualify a Washington Post photograph that recently won an award in the WHNPA annual contest.

The photographer entered a photograph that was digitally altered.

Editors at the Post discovered that the altered image was different from the one originally published.

The Post has a code of ethics that prohibits photo manipulation.

As I have previously stressed, even journalists need an understanding of media literacy.

They need to know how their work influence the public.

There is a need for professional ethics education.

Education programs are important because they serve to provide guidelines to help people make ethical decisions.

People who have a desire to work in the field of journalism need to be taught how to correctly use the tools.

However, guidelines and codes of ethics are not enough. Even Enron had a set of values and rules that was supposed to emphasize integrity and respect. Yet, the company lost its way and allowed unethical behavior to destroy the company.

An organization needs to have a code of ethics and conduct but they also need leaders who promote ethical behavior by setting an example.

Kudos to the Post for taking action.

Why Media Literacy Matters – Quality journalism and ethics

In a previous post I talked about the importance of quality journalism and why journalists also need media literacy education.

Photojournalists need to remind themselves about the ethics of journalism. This applies to both contests and published work.

Allen Murabayashi wrote an article titled, “Why Do Photo Contest Winners Look Like Movie Posters?”

In another article, Murabayashi explains that the next two photos are the World Press Photo of the Year 2012. The top image is the submitted image that won, and the lower image is how it was first published.

According to Murabayashi,

“The range of emotions expressed (anger, grief, despair), the position of the people and bodies, and proximity of the photographer to the subject make it an incredible moment in time. And because of these elements, this photo was deservedly named the World Press Photo of the Year. It also looks like an illustration.”

Like Murabayashi, I also prefer the “original” image better.

This is not the first time an entry has been manipulated.

Brian Patrick, an award-winning photojournalist, manipulated an image he took of a wildfire in 2009 that he submitted to the San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographers Association’s annual photo contest. For more information, visit http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/mediawire/161983/sacramento-bee-fires-bryan-patrick-for-photo-manipulation/

This is also not the first instance of photojournalists manipulating their images.

Patrick was fired from the Sacramento Bee on February 4, 2012 for the violation of ethics by digitally altering photographs. Patrick had digitally altered photographs on more than one occasion.

In April 2003, the Los Angeles Times fired Brian Walski, a photographer who covered the war in Iraq for the newspaper. According to Kenneth Irby of the Poynter Institute, Walski was fired on April 1, 2003 for submitting a photograph that was a composite of two different photographs he had taken.

Patrick Schneider is another photojournalist that was fired for digitally manipulating photographs. Schneider altered images on more than one occasion. According to Sherry Ricchiardi, on August 15, 2003, the North Carolina Press Photographers Association revoked three awards that were given to him, ruling he had improperly manipulated images in the editing process.

To ensure that photojournalists do not alter photographs or report stories that deceive the public, news organizations and the NPPA have established codes of ethics that they must abide by. Credibility is the greatest asset of journalists. It is wrong to alter the content of a photograph in any way (electronically or in the darkroom) that deceives the public. The preamble of the NPPA Code of Ethics states that photographs can cause great harm if they are manipulated.

Falsified images are unethical because they deceive the viewer.

Even journalists need an understanding of media literacy. They need to be careful and ensure that accurate information is shared. They need to know how their work influence the public.

As I said in a previous post, most professional journalists are trained to report truthfully and have a strong grasp on media literacy. However, they are human and can make mistakes.

It does not hurt to reevaluate the importance of media literacy training.

It is the responsibility of journalists to inform and educate the public on important issues that affect their lives and the world. But in order for journalists to accomplish this task, they must have the trust of the people.

People see the world, through the images and the stories presented by the media. The public has given journalists their trust and therefore they cannot mislead them.

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References

Irby, K. (2003, April 2). L.A. Times Photographer Fired Over Altered Image. Poynter Institute. Retrieved from http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/newsgathering-storytelling/9289/l-a-times-photographer-fired-over-altered-image/

Ricchiardi, S. (2007). Distorted Picture. American Journalism Review, August/September. Retrieved from http://www.ajr.org/article.asp?id=4383

Murabayashi, A. (2013). Why Do Photo Contest Winners Look Like Movie Posters?. Retrieved from http://blog.photoshelter.com/2013/02/why-do-photo-contest-winners-look-like-movie-posters/

Murabayashi, A. (2013). Darkrooms are Irrelevant and The Truth Matters. Retrieved from http://blog.photoshelter.com/2013/02/darkrooms-are-irrelevant-and-the-truth-matters/

National Press Photographers Association. (n.d). NPPA Code of Ethics. Retrieved from             https://nppa.org/code_of_ethics

The importance of photojournalism

It was the year 2000 when I fell in love with photojournalism.

I was a staff reporter for my high school newspaper. I already had an interest in photography, but it was not until I covered my first football game when I discovered my love of photojournalism.

I loved how I could capture emotions and important moments. I realized there was a story to be told with every photograph.

I was hooked.

A few months later, I knew I wanted to become a photojournalist.

I wanted to be a visual storyteller. I wanted to use photographs to educate people about important events around the world.

I wanted to make a difference.

In previous blog posts, I talked about how photojournalism can be used to educate people about diversity and to help people during emergency situations.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times reminded me why I love photojournalism.

Deirdre Edgar, a reporter for the LA Times, wrote about how a reader was inspired by a photograph to make a difference in someone else’s life. A woman was laid off from her job and was living with her 7-month-old daughter in transitional housing. The reader who saw the photograph, wrote to the LA Times:

“It’s trite, I know, but ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is so true here. It hit me because it’s so poignant — and she radiates intelligence, resoluteness, and she’s got it together.”

“Please pass on the enclosed check to her with my wish that she’ll do something nice for herself and Madison.”

A photograph made a difference in someone’s life.

This is why photojournalism is important.

This is why I love photojournalism.

 

 

 

Importance of captions – Lesson Plan

A photograph is worth a thousand words. Which means the viewer could potentially see a thousand different messages. This is problematic because the viewer might get the wrong message.

It is important to write strong photo captions. Effective captions help the viewer see the intended message.

 

Lesson Plan: Caption Writing

Overview
Students will learn about what makes a great caption and will learn about the 5W’s and H of journalism writing. Suggested time allowance is 40 minutes.

Objectives
Students will:

  • Examine a picture for details.
  • Write questions they need answered about the picture.
  • Create captions appropriate for a picture.
  • Know what information they need in order to create a caption.
  • Write more captions appropriate for other pictures.

Procedures
Activity 1

  • Hold up various front pages of local newspapers and ask students what they look at first. Most will say the pictures or artwork on the page. 
  • Next, show them a picture on the overhead without a caption. Have them guess what the caption would tell them. What else would they like to know from looking at the picture?

Activity 2

  • Students will find five photographs and identify and label the parts (5Ws and H) of the caption.

Activity 3

  • Students will be handed three photographs without a caption. Now they are to create captions for the images. They will identify people and explain the photo without telling the obvious. They will also include other background info.

Assessment
Create a caption for a photograph, using the “5Ws and H” to identify people and explain the photo without telling the obvious. Students will be graded based on creativity, structure and content.

Materials

  • Paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Newspapers and magazines with examples of pictures and captions