Pages Navigation Menu
PANIC BUTTON

Consider emotional impact as well as news values
when choosing images QT49

Posted by on Feb 7, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Visual Reporting | 0 comments

Censorship should not be an option

by Kristin Taylor
When the editors of the Panther Prowler, the student-run school newspaper for Newbury Park High School, decided to write
a feature article about teenagers having sex in 2015, they knew it was going to be controversial. The controversy wasn’t just about the content of the article, however — it was also about the image they paired with it, which appeared on the cover of their special edition magazine.

Since the article’s focus was the impact of limited sex education in and out of the classroom, the editors decided to use an iconic sex ed image: a condom on a banana.

Respecting the students’ freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment and California Education Code section 48907, administrators did not censor this feature. However, its publication led to an outcry in the parent community, many of whom believed the adults at the school should have censored it.

In an open letter to the community, editors Grace O’Toole and Courtney Brousseau explained their purpose in using this image.

While acknowledging that some felt the picture was “obscene or scandalous,” the editors argued, “It is the quintessential image of sex education. Moreover, it is a nurse-honored, military-practiced, and physician-approved method of teaching safe sex, and while it is not employed at NPHS, public schools across the nation model the proper method of practicing safe sex as a part of their official health curriculum. For this reason, we felt it reflected the angle of the article without sensationalizing the issue.”

The students also pointed out that those upset with adults at the school were missing the point. “It is important to note that while our adviser and administration did protect our guaranteed freedom of press, they did not produce or in any way endorse the magazine,” they wrote. “The decision to publish and distribute the magazine rested solely with the editors of the publication, not the adviser or the administration.”

O’Toole and Brousseau did not back down from their choice to use this image, but they did choose to take down the posters they had distributed to advertise the upcoming special edition. They also did not include the image when they published the article online.

“We maintain that [the images on the posters] were not obscene or pornographic. While they may have been suggestive, they were not revealing,” they wrote. “That being said, we did take [the posters] down several days before the distribution of the magazine. We didn’t want the buzz surrounding the posters to detract from our original intention of starting a productive dialogue and for that reason, we chose to focus on what is important – the article.”

This situation illustrates a few important takeaways about visual images and student journalism:

  • Just as with other forms of content, students should have final say over any image they choose to publish. Responsible editors should be ready to explain why they used the image if challenged by the member of the public, but they should not self-censor if they feel a controversial image is justified.
  • Student publications that operate as public forums for student voices provide some legal protection for adults and the school itself, as they operate separate from these entities.
  • Students should evaluate whether the impact of a controversial image will overwhelm the purpose of the reporting. If they feel the image might overshadow the message or is merely sensational, they may want to adjust accordingly.

Ultimately, students have a right to publish images along with their other content, but they should have a discussion about whether those images will hurt or help the main focus of their reporting when warranted. Having a consistent process and ethical guidelines helps student reporters to make good decisions about their images.

 

Quick Tip:

Visual images and censorship

Guideline:

Students should consider not only the news value of an image but also the emotional effect of the image on the audience. 

Social Media Post/Topic:

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, should journalists be 1,000 times more careful about them? And what if someone wants to censor one?

Stance:

Students should have ethical guidelines in their staff manual to guide their decisions about visual images and be able to explain the newsworthiness of any image they publish. Student editors should have final say in all content decisions.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Just as with other forms of content, students should have final say over any image they choose to publish. Student publications that operate as public forums for student voices provide some legal protection for adults and the school itself, as they operate separate from these entities.

Responsible editors should be ready to explain why they used the image if challenged by the member of the public, but they should not self-censor if they feel a controversial image is justified. Students should evaluate whether the impact of a controversial image will overwhelm the purpose of the reporting. If they feel the image might overshadow the message or is merely sensational, they may want to adjust accordingly.

When constructing a process for determining whether to publish an image, students should consider many questions, including:

  • is this image important and relevant to the story?
  • What makes it meaningful?
  • Will the audience understand the information conveyed without reading any accompanying text?
  • What story does it tell?
  • What story would others be able to get from that photo?
  • What, if any, warnings should accompany online content?
  • Is there an alternative, better, way to show the story?

Resources:

Visual ethics guidelines, Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism

Visual Journalism, NPR Code of Ethics

Lesson: To Print or Not to Print, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: A Picture Never Lies, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: When Journalists Err Ethically, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: Pushing Photo Editing Boundaries, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: With Freedom of the Press Comes Great Responsibility, Journalism Education Association

SPJ Code of Ethics, Society of Professional Journalists

NPPA Code of Ethics, National Press Photographers Association

Photojournalism ethics needs a reexamination, The Poynter Institute

Visual ethical guidelines join online, yearbook ethics, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee

Audio: Using Images from Social Media, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee Press Rights Minute

Audio: Ethics in Editing News Photos, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee. Press Rights Minute

 

Read More

Seeking visual truth is just as important
as written truth QT48

Posted by on Feb 5, 2018 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Visual Reporting | 0 comments

by Kristin Taylor
A reporter working on a story pauses from her transcription. “Hm,” she thinks. “This is a good quote, but my source could have said it so much better. I’ll just change it around and add a bit …”

By this point, responsible student journalists and their advisers are horrified. Of course you can’t change a source’s quote! Our job is to seek truth and report it, not to create fiction.

Yet those same students may have a harder time understanding why photo manipulation is just as problematic. In a time where social media platforms include an array of pre-made filters and changing a picture is as easy as swiping left or right, student journalists may need a reminder about the difference between ethical photo editing and unethical manipulation.

Photojournalism is still journalism, which means visual images should reflect the truth as accurately as other forms of reporting. Just as journalists shouldn’t manipulate a quote because it will “make the story sound better,” they also shouldn’t manipulate a photograph beyond basic editing that maintains the journalistic truth of the image.

Students wondering about the consequences of faking photographs professionally might benefit from reading cautionary tales about people such as Brian Walski, Souvid Datta or Narciso Contreras — these once respected photojournalists lost jobs, reputation or even awards as a result of their photo manipulation.

Here are some tips to ensure student journalists are being truthful visually:

  • Edit digital photographs minimally; limit changes to basic cropping (without removing important context), adjusting brightness or contrast, and minor color adjustments.
  • Do not flip images or edit out elements of the photo.
  • Avoid staging photographs and passing them off as candid shots; this is similar to asking someone to say something for a quote you need rather than gathering candid quotes.
  • Clearly label manipulated images used as art (filters, colorized images, etc.) as photo illustrations and use these sparingly to maintain the journalistic credibility of your publication

Quick Tip: Ethical photo editing vs. unethical manipulation  

Guideline: Student media should avoid electronic manipulation that alters the truth of a photograph unless it is used as art. In that case it should be clearly labeled as a photo illustration.

Social Media Post: Filters are fun on social media, but are they journalistic? How do you know when editing crosses the line to unethical manipulation?

Reasoning/suggestions:

Photojournalism is still journalism, which means visual images should reflect the truth as accurately as other forms of reporting. Just as journalists shouldn’t manipulate a quote because it will “make the story sound better,” they also shouldn’t manipulate a photograph beyond basic editing that maintains the journalistic truth of the image.

Here are some tips to ensure you are being truthful visually:

  • Edit digital photographs minimally; limit changes to basic cropping (without removing important context), adjusting brightness or contrast, and minor color adjustments.
  • Do not flip images or edit out elements of the photo.
  • Avoid staging photographs and passing them off as candid shots; this is similar to asking someone to say something for a quote you need rather than gathering candid quotes.
  • Clearly label manipulated images used as art (filters, colorized images, etc.) as photo illustrations and use these sparingly to maintain the journalistic credibility of your publication.

Resources:

Visual ethics guidelines, Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism

Visual Journalism, NPR Code of Ethics

Posing Questions of Photographic Ethics, James Estrin, New York Times

Lesson: A Picture Never Lies, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: When Journalists Err Ethically, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: Pushing Photo Editing Boundaries, Journalism Education Association

Lesson: With Freedom of the Press Comes Great Responsibility, Journalism Education Association

SPJ Code of Ethics, Society of Professional Journalists

NPPA Code of Ethics, National Press Photographers Association

Photojournalism ethics needs a reexamination, The Poynter Institute

Visual ethical guidelines join online, yearbook ethics, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee

Audio: Using Images from Social Media, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee Press Rights Minute

Audio: Ethics in Editing News Photos, JEA Scholastic Press Rights Committee. Press Rights Minute

 

Read More

Respecting privacy and public space
important for photographers, too QT47

Posted by on Jan 28, 2018 in Blog, Quick Tips, Teaching, Visual Reporting | 0 comments

Student journalists should never invade the privacy of others while accessing information or photos for a story.

 However. it is their journalistic duty to know what constitutes invasion of privacy or what spaces they are legally allowed to access and what spaces they are not legally allowed to access.

Student journalists should check the legal and ethical parameters of public space and the latest recommendations for journalistic activity from the Student Press Law Center.

Bottom line: Student photographers should familiarize themselves with where they can, and cannot, legally take pictures in order to avoid legal consequences and/or stand up for themselves when legally taking pictures

Guideline

Student journalists should check the legal and ethical parameters of public space and the latest recommendations for journalistic activity from the Student Press Law Center.  

Question: 

What (and where) can student photographers legally photograph?

Stance

Student journalists should never invade the privacy of others while accessing information or photos for a story, however it is their journalistic duty to know what constitutes invasion of privacy or what spaces they are legally allowed to access and what spaces they are not legally allowed to access.

Key points/action

  • Public space = Any space that is deemed “public” in nature. For example,  the sidewalk, street, hallways in public schools or government owned buildings, etc. Journalists can take pictures of whatever they want as long as they are standing in a public place. If they can see something from that public space there is no expectation of privacy. (I.e. It is not an “invasion of privacy” for a student journalist to take a picture of a couple kissing in the hallway of a public school because there is no “reasonable expectation of privacy.”
  • Semi-public space = this is public space in a privately owned space (such as the food court at the mall). In this space, journalists can take photos because there is no “reasonable expectation of privacy.” In this situation, they do not have to stop taking pictures if a customer asks them to stop. However, they DO have to stop taking pictures in this situation if the owner of the space asks them to do so (or if authorities ask them to do so).
  • Private space = these are places where there is a “reasonable expectation of privacy” and journalists should gain permission before taking pictures. Note, these places are not always “privately” owned, but they always have a “reasonable expectation of privacy.” A locker room, for example, may be a public space but there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Homes, offices, etc. all have expectations of privacy and journalists cannot invade that privacy.
  • Scenarios:
    • A classroom in a public high school – if the journalist is taking pictures from an established public place (such as the hallway) and the door is open, they can then take pictures as there is no “reasonable expectation of privacy” and they are standing in a public place. If the door of the classroom is closed, they issue becomes more of a legal grey area and, depending on the nature of the photographs, it may best to let everyone know pictures are being taken.
    • An open window to a house – if the journalistic is taking pictures of someone’s house and then shades are open, they can take pictures of the inside of the house as long as they do not trespass and stay on the “public space.” Because the shades are open, there can no longer be a claim for a “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Student journalists have a legal right to photograph public spaces, regardless of what administrators may tell them.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Students should know their legal rights when it comes to accessing public and private spaces for information.

Bottom line: Student photographers should familiarize themselves with where they can, and cannot, legally take pictures in order to avoid legal consequences and/or stand up for themselves when legally taking pictures. Resources

Related: Transparency

 

 

Read More

In plain view from public places: Photojournalists and free speech

Posted by on Oct 18, 2016 in Blog, Law and Ethics, Legal issues, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Visual Reporting | 0 comments

freespeechweek_logo_mainWhat can and cannot be photographed continues to fall under question, bringing attention to photojournalists and igniting important First Amendment conversations. As part of other Free Speech Week lessons and activities, teachers may use this opportunity to incorporate key readings and discussion geared toward visual storytellers.

For starters, journalism students paying attention to current events likely caught last week’s story of documentarian Deia Schlosberg arrested while filming an oil pipeline protest in North Dakota. If needed, teachers can engage students in a quick research activity to update each other. Key questions: What’s the story? How does this relate to the First Amendment? How does a photojournalist’s role compare to that of a documentarian?

Photojournalists use the phrase “in plain view from public spaces” to describe in broad terms their interpretation of access and privacy as related to their First Amendment rights. What does this mean? Teachers can consider this as a warm-up writing prompt or partner conversation between students before sharing as a larger group.

To read more about photojournalists and the First Amendment, teachers can assign small groups to read and report on any of these articles:

NYT Lens blog: Criminalizing photography

University of Missouri protest “muscle” incident

Pennsylvania student shooting routine traffic stop

First Amendment Center: Photographs as speech

ACLU: What to do if you’re detained

Police, cameras and the Constitution

To tie in a media literacy component, teachers may add “Photography and the Law: Know Your Rights” from Photojojo. How is this article more or less credible? How does the material compare to the other articles under discussion? What factor(s) affected your analysis?


It’s likely that most journalism classes already discussed this photo from Aleppo and a related article
 back in August, but the connection here is strong between the power of a photo and why the world depends on photojournalists to capture what audiences need to see, regardless of how terrifying, depressing or controversial those images may be.

The National Press Photographers Association offers this statement about its advocacy work protecting photojournalists’ rights.
After reading related articles and discussing efforts underway to protect those constitutional freedoms, teachers may want to present powerful storytelling images that may spark debate about free speech and/or the ethical considerations photojournalists face. One option is to assign students to find and share photos on their own.

Here is a simple list of possible photos and/or photographers to research and discuss:

  • Yannis Behrakis, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography, on the refugee crisis in Greece
  • General Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing a Viet Cong Prisoner in Saigon” by Eddie Adams in 1968
  • Pulitzer Prize-winning photos taken by photojournalist Paul Watson of a dead American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu
  • Image galleries showing treatment of Iraq prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison complex
  • “The vulture and the little girl” by South African photojournalist Kevin Carter in 1993
  • “The Falling Man” by Richard Drew during 9/11 attacks
  • “Fire on Marlborough Street” or “Fire escape collapse” by Stanley Forman
  • “The Burning Monk” by Malcolm Browne

From celebrating Free Speech Week and First Amendment protection of what photojournalists can do legally to the ongoing considerations of what they should do ethically, the topic is one worth exploring on a regular basis.

by Sarah Nichols, MJE

Read More

Limits to taking a stance
in front page design?

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 in Blog, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Visual Reporting | 0 comments

Title
What are the limits to showing support/opposition of timely events or issues in design elements on news pages?

Description
Was it OK for student newspaper to Rainbow Filter its Twitter profile pic?

Student journalists have always been taught standards of objectivity. The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on same sex marriage led at least one publication, The Daily Evergreen of University of Washington, to make a statement in its nameplate.

How should scholastic media handle similar advocacy? What are the ethical and philosophical issues. Should student media show advocacy positions in news slots?  Can students design ethical guidelines and procedures for staff manuals concerning the issues?

Where to draw the line on advocacy journalism?

Objectives
• Students will be able to examine controversial issues and reach reasoned decisions and exhibit critical thinking skills
• Students will be able to identify key points in controversial issues and effectively explain their decisions
• Students will be apply skills of critical thinking and ethical research to reach guidelines and procedures to guide their media to handle controversial issues.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.5 Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.3 Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.

Length
150 minutes

Materials/resources

Lesson step-by-step

Day 1

Ask students what they know about the 2015 U. S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges.

In the discussion, the teacher or an appointed student should write student comments on the board.

Next, assign the reading, After Gay Marriage Ruling, Was It OK for Student Newspaper to Rainbow Filter Its Twitter Profile Pic? Direct students to follow the links and read the comments.

Students should read the article and related materials and prepare three questions about the reading for class discussion. They should also answer this question for the next day: Was It OK for Student Newspaper to Rainbow Filter Its Twitter Profile Pic?

Urge them to do additional research on their own to help provide support in preparing an answer to their question. They could search the terms journalistic objectivity, journalism ethics, advocacy journalism or follow any of the links in the reading. They can use these searches to add to their three questions.

Day 2 (would be Day 1 if using the Differentiation)

Discussion of the question and related issues can be in small groups or as a large group. Take steps to see that all participate. The question they would comes to consensus is: Would it be OK for student media to showcase a position in the design or presentation of its news format?

Student answers to the question might not be as important as looking at the process used and discussion toward reaching consensus on an answer. The philosophical question behind the exercise is Where to draw the line on advocacy journalism?

Take the time needed so all students have a chance to be heard and to ask questions in large group or smaller teams.

Once adequate time has been given to discussion, set the stage for decision making on Day 3, which will involve the group drafting ethical guidelines and staff manual procedures that would cover the question.

The product would be approved by the student media staff (if different from the class) and added to the staff manual.

Day 3

Either in a large group or in smaller groups, draft ethical guidelines and staff manual procedures on the question.

Access instructions and how to use the ethical guidelines-staff manual approaches and a model of what the concept would look like.

Discuss the drafts and reach consensus.

Differentiation

The activities can be carried out in large groups or small groups.

Read More

Issues worth building lessons around

Posted by on Dec 10, 2014 in Blog, Digital Media, Ethical Issues, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching, Uncategorized, Visual Reporting | 0 comments

sprclogoAs we head into a break for the holidays, three issues and concepts stand out as worth some future  consideration.

• The First Amendment: In the land of the free, why are schools afraid of freedom by Charles Haynes.
Written by this First Amendment advocate following the JEA/NSPA Washington, DC, convention, the column challenges us all to question administrator misuse of First Amendment. The article cites instances of prior review to limit discussion of ideas and groups and the elimination of some groups from school student media coverage while permitting others. The last time I checked, ordering blanket silence on some groups served no educational value or pedagogy. Haynes likened this process as a fear of freedom and questioned such philosophy as a misplaced attempt to either make schools safe. He also urged all journalism programs in schools subject to prior review – or restraint – to build a campaign to end it. You certainly would have a legion of supporters.

• The epic Rolling Stone gang-rape fallout – and how major publications get it wrong. This is only one of many resources on this coverage that violated one of journalism’s basic principles: verify your information and ensure your sources are credible. Citing the premonition “something just doesn’t feel right” about a story, author Terrence McCoy leads with the story of Richard Bradley feeling the gang rape reported in Rolling Stone did not happen. Bradley, it seems, had some experience with this kind of thing before. He once edited Stephen Glass, McCoy wrote.

In a rush to get a seemingly wonderful story into print, journalists will not verify a story or have the right sources. Because such incidents happen more than we would like to admit, we must stress scholastic reporters like others have to go beyond pre-existing bias or view and learn to apply skills of skeptical knowing or crap-detecting or just plan digging to every story, every day and across every platform. It’s an ongoing lesson never to be dropped from our curricula or from our practices.

• A toolkit by the solutions journalism network and Pulitzer Center. This material caught my eye because it focuses on something we do not do enough of: Perspective reporting and identifying sources who strive for solutions. Historians have long said those who don’t learn about an issue or concept as destined to repeat it. Is it because journalists don’t do enough follow-up reporting, add enough perspective and address solutions? This particular piece might be just the right tool at the right time to help us not only report but to keep solutions or alternatives in the public’s eye. It’s certainly worth our time to investigate the concept and give its points a shakedown cruise. Even if our students do not deal with international issues, the principles and concepts presented are worth localization. Introducing at the scholastic level just might help students, whether they become commercial journalists or not, begin to know we need to think in terms of solutions as much as issues identification.

Read More