I was lucky enough to see Alicia Wagner Calzada for her lecture on ethics and photojournalism. Being the President
Emeritus of the NPPA, National Press Photographers Association, Alicia is the go-to person when it comes to questions of what is right or wrong in the media.
I realize it’s naive, but I’ve always had this
notion that the media are the good guys of the world. Because they play this watch-dog role, there can be no room for corruption. Wrong! Listening to Alicia, there are
miles and miles of grey area when it comes to the ethics of taking something as simple as a picture. She showed us a lot of examples of pictures that had been modified. Some were glaringly obvious and I really can’t imagine how any professional thought it was
a good idea to submit shopped photos in the first place. But, there they were. Alicia referred to these guys as the “down in flames photographers.”
The grey area is when it comes to little stuff like cropping a photo or adjusting the hue of a picture. The cameras themselves allow you to adjust the white balance and manipulate settings. The hard and fast rule used to be, “if you can do it in a dark room then it’s okay.” However, with technology constantly advancing, there is nothing definite anymore let alone dark rooms really. It’s not impossible to be an ethical
photojournalist, it just takes an honest effort. That’s how you get and keep
credibility in the world of media.
“I think ethics is the single most important thing that news organizations have,” Alicia said.
She has blog about photo ethics which she keeps up with regularly, www.photoblawg.com, that addresses all kinds of issues photojournalists come across. If you
want to know more about Alicia and see some of her portfolio, check out her website www.aliciaphoto.com.