Ethics in Photojournalism: Authenticity and Sensitivity in Coverage of Tragic Events
Photojournalism captures moments within an event or space in time that are used to tell a larger story. Photographs are powerful tools for communication because these moments not only represent facts; they also have an ability to speak to viewers on a relatable and emotional level. With this power comes ethical responsibility and natural tension points between photograph, and journalistic practices.
Journalism’s ethics codes group points of discussion specific to photographs into categories of manipulation, privacy, or graphic content. This thesis argues that these issues fall into broader overlapping themes of authenticity and sensitivity. Using visual analysis of four photographs from the Boston Marathon bombing and Newtown school shooting, it considers how journalists deal with the relationship between photography and journalistic theory using this ethical framework of authenticity and sensitivity. It concludes with a discussion of best practices for coverage of tragic events from the real-world perspective of the photojournalist.