I am discovering that photojournalism has endless controversy

5 10 2010

While riding in my car back from sports practice I began telling my father about this blog. I told him specifically about the story of Kevin Carter, a photojournalist who I wrote about in my first post. I told my dad how Carter was severely criticized for not saving the starving child that he had photographed. I told my dad my opinion: that every photojournalist has the obligation to help a situation that they are photographing if they have the opportunity or ability to do so. My father disagreed, claiming it to be a “sensitive subject” for him because he strongly believed that journalists have one duty and one duty only: to provide information to the public. My father emphasized that the most definitely did not include the journalist’s opinion. Journalists, similarly to photojournalists, tell stories they don’t share their opinions.
So then my whole opinion about Kevin Carter’s lack of action of saving the young child changed. I believed that as a photojournalist Carter had the responsibility to save that child. That would have been the duty of a person taking a photo of the tragic scene. And yet now, I change my mind. If Carter’s action didn’t reflect anything on his photojournalism. He had no photojournalistic obligation to save that child. He had a moral obligation as a person though. And that is where it all becomes clear for me. Just because he didn’t violate any responsibilities as a photojournalist, he violated responsibilities as a real person.
A photojournalists job is pure and simple: to provide. A human’s job is so much more complex than that. Carter maybe forgot the second set of rule: the rules of humanity.

In the mean time, to change the subject, here is one of my favorite photographs under the gallery People & Culture. Check out more of them: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/people-culture/?page=1

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2 responses

5 10 2010
misterfischer

Interesting distinction between ethics of a p-journalist and ethics of a person-as-human-being. I wonder if there are journalistic codes of ethics regarding one’s obligation to one’s subject. You might check on line and see what you can find about this.

Like the new pictures.

11 10 2010
helena

whuddup lydia
I think you chose a really interesting topic and have gotten really far into reporting on the controversies within photojournalism. I like how you are reporting on “reporting” (if that even makes any sense). As far as your argument goes in this post, I completely agree. I feel like it is indeed a moral responsibility and i would even go as far as to say that it’s part of human nature to help those in need. I agree that Carter had no responsibility, as a photojournalist, to save the baby. awesome job! Looking forward to more and see you at crew bubba

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