Importance of professional photographers

Earlier this week, Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo said in a press conference, “there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore.”

As Jim Colton expressed on his blog, this is an insult to all professional photographers (and photojournalists).

The average person might have access to the same tools and social media makes it easy to share photographs.

But there are major differences between a professional photographer and the average citizen or so-called citizen journalist.

Professional photographers are willing to risk their lives in order to do their jobs as evident in recent crisis situations such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the tornado that struck Oklahoma City.

Chicago Tribune photographer Alex Garcia wrote on his blog:

When spectators with cameras were fleeing, they headed towards the madness of the explosion. [Boston Globe photojournalist John] Tlumacki took his iconic picture just 15 seconds after the first explosion.

Garcia explains that news photographers have a unique mission to share and bear witness unlike the casual observer with a camera.

Journalists have a responsibility to inform the public and to not mislead them.

In previous posts, I discussed the importance of ethics and the role that journalists (photojournalists) play, especially during times of crisis.

In addition, news photographers are expected to abide by a code of ethics.

As I wrote  in Why Media Literacy Matters – Quality journalism and ethics:

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.

Another difference between the professional and the average citizen is that professionals are trained to do their jobs.

 

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.

 

 

 

Why Media Literacy Matters – Photojournalism and Diversity

Teaching about racial diversity through photojournalism.

Media literacy teaches critical thinking and communications skills such as photojournalism.

Photojournalism is a universal language that uses photographs for storytelling and allows people of all races and cultures to find the things they have in common.

Below are two examples of how teachers used media literacy education to help their students learn about different cultures.

In a lesson about stereotypes, students in South Korea reflected on how media images of race and stereotypes had influenced their own reactions toward other people. The students also learned how producing stories about things they felt were important could make a difference in the ways they interacted with other people (Yoon, 2010).

Mary Guerrero, a teacher in the Lawrence Public School system in Massachusetts, used a photojournalism project to influence how her students perceived themselves and their city. She designed hands-on projects that engaged her students in their surroundings and encouraged them to express themselves. Her students discovered aspects of the city that they did not know existed, which reminded them of the similarities between different cultures (Marinell, 2008).

Photojournalism is one of the many tools of the media that can potentially help encourage creativity among the students and show them that something fun can have a powerful effect on society.

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References

Marinell, W. (2008). Voices Inside Schools. Capturing Authenticity, Transforming Perception: One Teacher’s Efforts to Improve Her Students’ Performance by Challenging Their Impressions of Self and Community. Harvard Educational Review, 78(3), 529-548.

Yoon, J. (2010). “Media literacy education to promote cultural competence and adaptation among diverse students: A case study of North Korean refugees in South Korea”. Temple University.

Why Media Literacy Matters – Stereotypes

Information comes from all over the world through powerful images.

Photography, video and film can perpetuate stereotypes.

Stereotypes can manipulate people’s thoughts and feelings, cause rage, unreason and even persecution (Shaheen, 2009)

Misrepresentations of immigrants and certain minority groups in the media play a significant role in shaping the public attitudes and opin­ions of people (Martens, 2010), which further perpetuate the stereotypes in society.

Immigrants and certain minority groups are often viewed as dangerous, a nuisance or as individuals in need of the country’s assistance. These stereotypes have been accepted by society as the norm.

These messages perpetuate the idea of “us versus them”.

These negative stereotypes presented by the media portray people of other races and cultures as “other” and establish them as inferior.

The media consistently portray racial minorities in stereotypical roles and although not all stereotypes are negative, even benign ones could encourage prejudice and benevolent feelings that are just as problematic (Ramasubramanian and Oliver, 2007).

Therefore, people need to be aware of how the media manipulates their beliefs.

People need to learn how to analyze media messages so that they are not misled by false information.

Media literacy education can help minimize the harm.

Media literacy teaches people the critical thinking skills that are necessary for understanding the complex messages presented by the media.

Researchers have concluded that if people practice and put in a conscious effort to negate stereotypical associations, they could reduce prejudice (Ramasubramanian and Oliver, 2007).

Media literacy training can help people see how news media often serve to rationalize existing social norms and expectations (Ramasubramanian, 2007).

People will then be more aware of how the media shapes social reality and will be less likely influenced by negative stereotypes.

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References

Martens, H. (2010).Evaluating Media Literacy Education: Concepts, Theories and Future Directions. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 2(1), 1-22.

Ramasubramanian, S. (2007). Media-Based Strategies to Reduce Racial Stereotypes Activated by News Stories. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 84(2), 249-264.

Ramasubramanian, S. and Oliver, M.B. (2007). Activating and Suppressing Hostile and Benevolent Racism: Evidence for Comparative Media Stereotyping. Media Psychology, 9, 623-646.

Shaheen, J. (2009). Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People. Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press. Preface and Introduction. 

Why Media Literacy Matters – Quality Journalism

With Election Day quickly approaching, it is necessary to address the importance of quality journalism.

New media changed the field of journalism.

Social media tools and the camera phone made it possible for any individual to share information and shape the way people perceive events around the world.

Some describe this as the rise of citizen journalism.

Others believe the field of journalism is simply evolving.

There is a difference between the professional journalist and the so-called citizen journalist but that is not the point.

The point is that despite their differences, they have a common goal in sharing information with the public.

Having access to tools is simply not enough. People need to be taught how to correctly use the tools.

With social media being commonly used as sources of information, it is crucial that journalists and the citizen journalist interpret a tweet or Facebook post correctly.

As I mentioned in a previous post, social media has made it easy to spread fake photographs and share false information.

Journalism has always been about sharing information with the public as quickly as possible.

Poynter published an article about the six social media mistakes that journalists need to avoid on Election Day. One of those is moving too quickly.

Social media makes it easy to share information quickly. Therefore it is important to be extra careful and ensure that accurate information is shared.

As the Poynter article pointed out, social media has increased the potential for errors and false information to be spread.

Whether you are a professional journalist or a citizen journalist, it is important to analyze and think critically about information before sharing it.

Most professional journalists are trained to do so and have a strong grasp on media literacy. However, they are human and can make mistakes.

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

It is important to think about where we get our information and make sure it is accurate.

Failing to do so will result in poor journalism and will only hurt the public.