College Students, Media Advisers Agree with Professionals Regarding Publication of Graphic Spot News Images
By Bradley Wilson, Ph.D.
Midwestern State University
Introduction – Professional photojournalists have been discussing what types of photos they should take and publish since the dawn of the profession. College media advisers and college photojournalists join that discussion more frequently as technology evolves. When dealing with basic photojournalistic ethics, the research and the abundance of prior literature provide a foundation for a discussion about what types of spot news photographs media outlets should publish in an era when all individuals armed with a digital camera can call themselves photojournalists on the scene of a spot news event.
Background – During the last half of the 19th century, photography was becoming an integral part of society. Photographers carrying bulky cameras documented building, still objects and, for those people who could sit still for the long exposures, formal portraits. By the time of the Civil War, photographers such as Matthew Brady carried their cameras to the action to show battlefields, camps, towns and people touched by the war. When a selection of Antietam photos went on exhibit in Brady’s gallery in New York in 1862, The New York Times wrote: “Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war. If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards … he has done something very like it” (“Brady’s Photographs,” 1862). As historian Naomi Rosenblaum (1984) said of photography at the time, “The photograph was regarded as an exemplary record because it was thought to provide an objective — that is, unaltered — view of solid fact and achievement.” Continue reading