The First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
As a collegiate photojournalism student, it is important to have a working knowledge of what is and isn’t ethical. Journalist must know their rights, as it is their job, by definition to report and document current events and issues. Photojournalist must also have a working knowledge of who, what and where they can record history.
All journalist must understand that under the first amendment, they have the right to photograph in the public sphere. According to Photojournalism: A Professional’s Approach, photojournalist have the right to photograph politicians, celebrities, and everyday people in public places. This could cause for friction in police situations, but authorities don’t have the right to confiscate photojournalist’s camera or photography equipment.
“However, police and fire officials are permitted to restrict newsgathering conduct if the photographer disrupts the pending investigation or activity,” according to Photojournalism: A Professional’s Approach.
On a collegiate level, practicing photojournalist have the right to photograph on the campus of a public school. The law allows photojournalist to shoot on public campuses, but private areas such as dorms, and common bathrooms have limitations. Public high schools and middle schools also have limitations for photojournalist. According to Photojournalism: A Professional’s Approach, high and middle schools fall under its principal’s jurisdiction. Meaning, the principal determines who can shoot on the school’s grounds.
The ethics of photojournalism, as described by the text, Photojournalism: A Professionals Approach, usually falls under three categories: Utilitarian, Absolutist, and The Golden Rule.
Utilitarian is described by ethicists as “the greatest good for the greatest amount of people.” Professionals generally follow this framework for photojournalism. When it comes to deciding whether to run a photo or not, the Utilitarian approach determines if the photo will be critical as an influence on a democratic society.
The Absolutist approach, is the ethical framework that relies on privacy. This principle says that despite the greater good that may come from publishing personal photo, the person or people photographed have a right to privacy. This principle adheres to an individual’s absolute right to privacy.
The Golden Rule principle is the approach that precept, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” According to the text, the major problem with The Golden Rule principle is you don’t know exactly how someone else feels, and ultimately your imposing your feelings on others.
As a photojournalist, it is important to follow the Utilitarian model. This principle follows the closest to the principles of photojournalism. As journalist, we are supposed to remain objective and unbiased. As a photojournalist, I aim to photograph ethically, and use judgements that will benefit society.
Overall, as the text stated, when it comes to shooting ethically, it is important to remember, you can always take a picture and not publish it. Shoot instinctively.