IDs in Wire Service Captions

I am … dumbfounded. Again.

Stony Brook University’s Wasim Ahmad has a piece up on iMediaEthics about captions again, this time talking with AFP’s Director of Photography for North America Miaden Antonov.

This piece is a result of an earlier piece where Aline Marie talked about no one asking her permission or talking to her after being photographed at a prayer vigil for the Sandy Hook victims.

This is the first part that stuns me:

When pressed about why the photographer couldn’t wait a minute or two for the woman to finish the prayer, he (Antonov) said that the photographer might have missed other photo opportunities if he waited, and that none of the other photographers that are visible in the picture bothered to ask the woman’s name.

“Can you imagine if everyone approached the woman?” Antonov said.

Yes, I can imagine. And, while that would be bad, if one approached they could share that info. Or they could, I don’t know, be journalists interested in a different point of view than what everyone else had.*

And then it gets worse:

Antonov said he was worried that if he required names in captions from photographers that some would simply make them up – a situation he cited as happening in a Moscow news bureau (though Antonov wouldn’t provide the name of the agency or photographer).

If you think your photographers might “make them up,” then stop using those photographers immediately.

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

You don’t trust them to be journalists, yet you’re hiring them AS journalists?

I … I … I just don’t know what to say here.

Rule one: Don’t make stuff up. Rule two: Without names, it’s not photojournalism, it’s just a photograph.

* I was an AFP stringer many years ago. The folks who hired me gave me a rule: If you see AP standing somewhere shooting something, don’t stand next to them. Get something different.

Mark E. Johnson

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