Recently the New York Times revealed a staggering truth about modern photojournalism that has the field's ethics under scrutiny. It appears the acts of staging and manipulating images have become prevalent, which puts the field as a whole in question. Photojournalism is about capturing the truth and journalist often work under a strict code that incudes observation only. But the nature of competition has brought a staggering number of photojournalist to bend if not break this code by presenting images that they themselves setup under the guise journalism.
Setting up a shot to tell a story is editorializing, not photojournalism. Our news outlets as a whole live under scrutiny as ratings and selling ads are often seen as more important by the consumer than the actual validity of the news being told. It seems now photography needs to come under this same scrutiny.
The recent article from the New York Times goes into great depth to explain the recent attention to this issue. Much of the spotlight comes from this year's World Press Competition where "large numbers" of entries where disqualified for breaking the rules which include not setting up shots or manipulating them in post-processing. The article continues that in a recent survey completed by photojournalist, an unbelievable percent of those that completed the survey admitted to breaking the rules and ethics of photojournalism.
One of the most disturbing findings was that more than half of the news photographers who replied said they sometimes staged photos — with 12 percent saying they did so at least half the time. All of the major wire services and newspapers in the United States forbid staging news photos.
The article raises a larger question about the overall trust of the public in the media. Where do we go for honest information? Photography as a whole is continually under scrutiny for over photoshopping and major news stations are often the butt of jokes for their sensationalist styles. Now it seems a medium that feels honest, or at least it had to me, now deserves the same mistrust.
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