Ethics in Photojournalism

Photojournalism is defined as documenting reality through images. With capturing these moments comes great pressure and debate. This brings up the question: To publish or not to publish? Journalists are faced with the ethical and moral responsibility for the photos they take. Publishing photos documenting gut wrenching and heavy moments in time has a lot of advantages and disadvantages.

Publishing pictures give insight into the reality of events in the world and provide a strong message, making the viewer feel connected with the image. These tough images can educate the world and evoke compassion for others. In contrast, these difficult images can bring up complex questions, such as “how does this image affect the people photographed, their family, people that can relate to the image, or even the audience?” These images have long lasting effects and carry the potential of exploiting victims and shocking the audience. However, the documentation of horrific events show the reality of human existence. I believe there is no right or wrong answer to this ongoing debate.

Images contain such an emotional impact and powerful message. Pictures document events, provide information and are processed quickly. Images serves as a universal language that everyone can understand. It is common for a picture to say things that words just cannot describe. Additionally, powerful and bold images can bring upon change. For example, the depiction of the Vietnam War showed a reality that many people were opposed to. American citizens encouraged the removal of troops from Vietnam after seeing devastating photos of innocent civilians suffering. Knowing that grim photographs can bring upon positive change is encouraging and displays the importance and significance of photojournalism.


Click on this link to view 100 of the most influential images of our time. DISCLAIMER: Some of the images document events that may be hard to see or process.