Ethics and the Role of Photojournalism Organizations

Rachel Donadio has a piece up at The New York Times talking about this year’s Visa Pour l’Image Festival in Perpignan, France, that’s worth a read.

Perpignan is the annual gathering of photojournalism, one of (if not the) largest exhibition of work each year. Donadio’s piece runs through some of the big issues of the last year, including the decision by organizer Jean-Francios Leroy to not exhibit images from this year’s World Press Photo.

When he announced that, most thought (including myself) that it was a reaction to the misleading photos of Giovanni Troilo that had been given an award (later taken back). It was, in part, but Leroy is quoted as saying his objection was to the first place award, an image that raised no ethical eyebrows, but was widely seen as a diverging from previous decisions by World Press Photo.

The image – of two gay Russian men made by Mads Nissen of Denmark – doesn’t show any of the horror of the previous year. It shows two humans in an intimate moment and, given the changes in American culture and law this year, at least, does seem representative of some shifting values worldwide.

This whole piece is a good Sunday morning read as it covers a lot of ground – from manipulation to lies to the role of photojournalism in modern society. It also brings up the robust discussion that the industry is finally having. John Moore, from Getty Images, said:

It’s important to have these discussions in the business, if we are going to remain relevant in an age when everyone with a phone thinks they are a photojournalist. If we lose our credibility as reliable and honest documentarians of the news, what else do we really have left?

Mark E. Johnson

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