Category Ethics & Legal

Seeing Where You Are

For every photographer who has ever said they need to travel somewhere to make better images, for every journalist who has driven to work with windows up and music playing, you must read this piece by Neeta Satam on how to see stories ethically.

Next week, students in our Documentary Photojournalism course will head a little south for our 13th Annual Woodall Weekend Workshop, three days in one rural community telling its story. They will focus in on one project, working with ten professionals acting as editors, coaches and mentors.

There is nothing unique or special about the communities we choose for them to cover, they are everyday places full of everyday happenings – stories we need to see to understand who we are.

These are the stories of our backyard.

(Thanks to Sean Elliot for the link.)

Automating the Copyright Infringement Search

Steven Melendez at FastCompany has an interesting piece up on two companies – Copypants and Pixsy – that are automating the search for copyright infringements online.

The technology (similar to Google’s and TinEye’s reverse image search) has the potential to be a powerful way to control how our images are used. The danger comes from how the process moves forward after finding a possible infringement – overly aggressive law firms could spur rollbacks of copyright protections in a worst-case scenario.

Now, if there were a way to get hosting platforms to tie into a reverse image search with the Copyright Office to stop the images from even getting posted, that could be a game changer – getting more people to register AND making potential infringers aware of what they are doing.

(Thanks to John Harrington for the link.)

The Year in Pictures, Then and Now

Allen Murabayashi compares The New York Times’ 2008 and 2017 Year in Pictures presentations over at the PhotoShelter blog.

The differences in technical quality and how images are toned are substantial. The evolution of digital cameras I seen through greater resolution, dynamic range and low light sensitivity, but the way photographers are handling post-processing is really evident. Tools that were not available a decade ago now have a significant impact on the look of news photographs.

On Why Journalists Need Access

The Washington Post’s David Nakamura takes a look at the photo(s) posted by The New York Times’ Doug Mills of the presidents visit to Manila.

There is a lot to unpack here.

Avedon and Civil Rights

Interesting look at the way Richard Avedon was trying to get segments of the publishing industry to move forward during the Civil Rights era by Philip Gefter for The New York Times.

Knowing Your Sources Matters

Every journalism course will teach you the same thing – know who your source is and why they are talking to you. In today’s wired world, that same lesson needs to apply to photo editors as Jan A. Nicolas reports at PetaPixel, a fake war photographer (using stolen and modified images) manages to get work published all over the world.

This photographer doesn’t exist, yet had a robust online portfolio and publication links.

So what do we learn from this? Know your sources. Don’t assume that the vetting process others have used is solid – the Wall Street Journal was duped here, as was the BBC. Because neither of them put the effort into verifying the images or the person allegedly behind them.

So who suffers here? The photographers whose work was stolen and the audience who viewed that work are at the ends of that list. But right in the middle, it’s the news organizations who published this work – it is their credibility that has been eroded.

And, at the end of the day, the only thing we as journalists have is credibility.

Secret Deals During WWII

Fascinating story about how the Associated Press cut a deal with the Nazis to get images out of Germany during World War II.

I find some fault or under-reporting of this story in how they describe whether member news organizations knew they were publishing Nazi propaganda. There is a difference between the captions the AP transmits with photos and the cutlines that news organizations publish. Using a few published clips as evidence that the AP didn’t notify members is, at best, incomplete reporting and, at worst, incorrect reporting. Without seeing how the original Wirephotos were sent it’s impossible to know what the AP told its members.

Still, a lot to talk about in an ethics lesson here.

Stock Photos … Why?

It’s been a while, but here we go again … my local publication, the Athens Banner-Herald, had a nice piece looking at our local YMCA. It’s 160 years old and, according to the story, was the third YMCA opened in the country – that’s a pretty cool fact.

They have a gallery of images from to go with the story – some historical photos, a current one of the building. A nice package overall.

And then I get to the last photo in the gallery …

… and it seems odd. Why is there a fade bar around it? Why no faces? Why no logos?

Why? Because it’s a stock photo, that’s why. It appears on other YMCA web sites, it appears on PlaySportsTV and it appears on the Starkville Soccer Association site, too.

In fact, a reverse image search has the same image appearing on dozens of web sites.

Why? It’s a stock photo. A generic image associated with no story. It doesn’t belong on a news web site.

This is the consequence of not having photo editors.

NPPA Voting Opens

It’s time to vote for openings on the National Press Photographers Association’s board of directors and a couple of regional chairs. I started reading through the bios for all the candidates this morning – there are some phenomenally good people running this year, choosing just two for the board will be brutal.

Think deeply about what you want our of our association – and, remember, it is ours. We are members and not subscribers. Read the bios, ponder deeply and get your vote cast by November 30.

The number of folks who vote fluctuates, but if you care about visual journalism, if you care about our NPPA, then it is your obligation to vote.

Image Theft for Political Gain

Let the copyright violation season begin – though usually it’s not the high level candidates who do this.