Exercise: To print or not to print

Ethics of photojournalism.

The photographer rarely makes the editorial decision of what may be deemed ethically suitable to be printed in the press .This photograph here of the Madrid bombings in 2004 taken by Pablo Torres Guerrero was published by newspapers , but the graphic image , which included a severed limb , was considered too horrific by some publications to print in its original form. The ‘offending’ limb was airbrushed out by some , printed in black and white , or print was placed over that area of the image. The Guardian chose to alter the colour of the bloodied limb to grey.

Read Clare Cozens’ Guardian article here about Guerrero’s photograph
What would you have done had you been the editor of a British broadsheet newspaper?

I must be honest I find this a really difficult question to answer. However despite the fact that I feel uneasy looking at the image I believe that by choosing to alter the original the truth has been manipulated , albeit only fractionally , but something that was there has been removed. I feel readers of newspapers , especially broadsheets , are intelligent enough to feel slightly insulted that what is deemed acceptable to view is censored on their behalf . Readers want , and should be , kept informed of current affairs without bias. Admittedly the context was not altered by each individual editors choice of how to print the image but the fact remains something was omitted. Yet I can too easily understand why some made a choice to use an altered version of the truth because images like this are distressing. Perhaps the answer would have been to not use this particular image at all .

+ Read ‘But Should You Print it?’
Core resources:ShouldYouPrint.pdf

The ethics of journalism

Sensitive areas:
1.Violence
2.Invasion of privacy
3.Sex & public decency
4.Faking

Considerations to be made before making the choice to print .
Not all need to be answered in the affirmative but should fit at least one of the listed criteria.
1.Is the event of such social/historic significance it warrants being printed
2.Is it necessary to understand the event ?
3.Does the subject consent ?
4.Is it indicative of humanity?

Using the criteria above against Guerrero’s photograph should it have been printed in it’s original form?

The event was a terrorist attack on a large scale so yes it was justified insofar that it was a significant attack by terrorists .

However even without the severed limb the context remains which makes me wonder if the decision made by several editors to not show the original image was in fact perfectly acceptable.

Yet I still cannot help thinking the decision somehow challenges the supposed integrity of the free press.

Accessed 14/1/16
Accessed 14/1/16
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