Critical Issues in JournalismVisual Journalism Serena Wong Tze-Wei Ng Walter Kwok
Case IRobert Glen Coe, The Tennessee • Image from video of Coe’s last moments • Released on Nov. 29, 2000 • First murderer executed in Tennessee in 4 decades on April 19 Click inside black box to play
Debates in the news room • “Is it (publishing the photo) worth what it will do to our reputation?” • “This is news, showing what is involved in taking a human life.” • “The picture doesn’t advance the story. Just tell it in prose.” • “I’m not sure I want to see this photo with my cereal in the morning.” • “I don’t want to look at that photograph, but I know I can’t shy away from it, either.” • “Why don’t we let the readers decide?” • “A photo doesn’t give them a choice.”
Case II“Heroin Town”, Hartford Courant • Published onOctober 20, 2002 • “wasn’t news …known all too well” • “city bashing underthe guise of news” • “this kind of reporting does make a difference”
How images different from words? • Stronger and more long-lasting impression • “Power to plant a message in the mind” • Instant information • Incite emotion • Some quotes from readings ...
Images v.s. Words • ABOVE ALL gives the wrong impression that it is the truth • BUT actually how much truth is being conveyed? • “Camera doesn’t lie?”
Staged photo • New York Times, Sep. 20, 2002
Staged photo - a 1863 example • Civil War photographers sometimes tried to communicate both pathos and patriotism with his photographs, reminding his audience of the tragedy of war without forgetting the superiority of his side's cause. Sometimes, the most effective means of elevating one's cause while demeaning the other was to create a scene -- by posing bodies -- and then draft a dramatic narrative to accompany the picture.
Deliberate photo • National Geographic • --> what’s being left out in the process of looking for the woman?
Altered photo • L.A. Times, March 31, 2003 Composite photo “to improve composition” -Brian Walski
Altered photo - Canada example • Vancouver Sun, Sep. 20, 2002 "The [untampered] picture talks about protest, but the story is not about protest, it is about the potential sale or development of the building.”- Don MacLachlan,communications directorfor the Pacific Newspaper Group "If you change the meaning of [a photo], that shouldn’t be done”- Kevin Statham,a photographer for the Georgia Straight
Altered photo - Classic cases Great Pyramids of Egypt, 1982 O. J. Simpson Valley Daily News, 1970 (top)Life Magazine, May 1995
March 18, 2003 - Oriental Daily (left) and Sing Tao Daily Suicide photo v.s. Journalists duty? • How much information does readers require? Why use photos?
What are these 5 girls to do with CPPCC? March 12, 2003 - Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
Factors for consideration • Privacy • Sensitivity to victim and victim’s family • Morality - changing standard?“Breakfast rule” still applies? • Encourage crime or suicides? • Public right to know?
Joint code of ethics of photojournalism in HK • Report the truth • Show concern about victim’s or family’s feelings • Respect privacy • Handle with caution gory, violent, disgusting & pornographic pictures • Process pictures on basis of actual scene • Label manipulated pictures
Control of obscene and indecent articles ordinance – section 10 Whether an article is obscene or indecent: • Standards of morality, decency and propriety accepted by the community • Dominant effect of an article • Persons or class of persons or age groups of intended readers • Location where article is publicly displayed • Honest purpose or merely camouflage
Use of graphics - good • TIME uses map to depict troop movements
Use of graphics - good? • Re-live the scenes with Apple Daily
Other processing techniques • Black/white vs color • Where to put it?
Television v.s. Print • Words + sounds + motion = more powerful!! • Enormity of audience • Live broadcasting and live reporting : simultaneity of exposure
However... • When simultaneity becomes the overriding concern?? • “Papers can filter the facts” • spotty coverage, tend to pick up rumour • --> fog of facts!! • “Confusion resulting from too much information and not enough perspective” • - Peter Osnos, Public Affairs Press
Case studies • Luster case: - • news investigation v.s. shameless tease? • Toogood case: - • “instant-guilt-by-media” • “a decontextualized collection of continuous images that masquerade as the truth” • “the videotape could not capture the whole story?” • Entertainment v.s. news? • Real live TV?
Television • “Like religious holidays, major media events mean an interruption of routine, days off from work, norms of participation in ceremony and ritual, concentration on some central value, the experience of communitas and equality in one‘s immediate envionment and integration with a cultural center… Passive spectatorship gives way to ceremonial participation. The depth of this involvement, in turn, has relevance for the formation of public opinion and for institutions such as politics, religion and leisure. In a further step, they enter the collective memory.“ • ~ Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz, Media Events: The Live Broadcasting of History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992)
Media events • Repetitive broadcast • Rethink: the power of television visual journalism!!
To take or to help? • Kevin Carter
References • “Ethics in the Age of Digital Photography”John Long, National Press Photographers Association Ethics Co-Chair, September 1999 [http://www.nppa.org/services/bizpract/eadp/eadp.html] • “Faking images in photojournalism”Paul Martin Lester, California State University, Fullerton, January 1988 [http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/lester/writings/faking.html] “Ethics refers to issues of deception, or lying. Taste refers to issues involving blood, sex, violence and other aspects of life we do not want to see in our morning paper as we eat breakfast. …Ethics violations damage credibility and the effects can last for years.” - John Long