Friday, September 7, 2012


Some thoughts for the day.  Please be sure to follow this blog.  This is one place where we can post our questions and concerns, and discuss the issue at hand without breaking any rules.  I'm going to begin, and I expect everyone to use this blog as a resource. Agreed?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

For Our Journalists

"News is history in its first and best form, its vivid and most fascinating form."
-Mark Twain

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The LIKES may outweight the DISLIKES

Seeing Social Media More as Portal Than as Pitfall

January 9, 2012 (New York Times)
More than a hundred years ago, when the telephone was introduced, there was some hand-wringing over the social dangers that this new technology posed: increased sexual aggression and damaged human relationships. “It was going to bring down our society,” said Dr. Megan Moreno, a specialist in adolescent medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Men would be calling women and making lascivious comments, and women would be so vulnerable, and we’d never have civilized conversations again.”

In other words, the telephone provoked many of the same worries that more recently have been expressed about online social media. “When a new technology comes out that is something so important, there is this initial alarmist reaction,” Dr. Moreno said.

Indeed, much of the early research — and many of the early pronouncements — on social media seemed calculated to make parents terrified of an emerging technology that many of them did not understand as well as their children did.

Whether about sexting or online bullying or the specter of Internet addiction, “much social media research has been on what people call the danger paradigm,” said Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician and the director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston.

Though there are certainly real dangers, and though some adolescents appear to be particularly vulnerable, scientists are now turning to a more nuanced understanding of this new world. Many have started to approach social media as an integral, if risky, part of adolescence, perhaps not unlike driving.

Researchers are also looking to Facebook, Twitter and the rest for opportunities to identify problems, to hear cries for help and to provide information and support. Dr. Rich, who sees many teenagers who struggle with Internet-related issues, feels strongly that it is important to avoid blanket judgments about the dangers of going online.

“We should not view social media as either positive or negative, but as essentially neutral,” he said. “It’s what we do with the tools that decides how they affect us and those around us.”

Dr. Moreno’s early research looked at adolescents who displayed evidence of risky behaviors on public MySpace profiles, posting photos or statements that referred to sexual activity or substance abuse. E-mails were sent to those adolescents suggesting that they modify their profiles or make them private.

Girls were more likely to respond than boys, Dr. Moreno found, and sexual material was more likely than alcohol-related material to be removed.

Her current research, by contrast, approaches social media as a window, an opportunity to understand and improve both physical and mental health. In a study of the ways college students describe sadness in status updates on their Facebook profiles, she showed that some such expressions were associated with depression in students who completed clinical screening tests.

Since freshman year is a high-risk time for depression, many college resident advisers already try to use Facebook to monitor students, Dr. Moreno said. Perhaps it will be possible to help R.A.’s recognize red flags in the online profiles of their charges.

Still, she acknowledged that this new strategy raised privacy concerns, asking, “How do you think about extending this to other at-risk groups in a way that still doesn’t feel like an invasion of privacy?” For example, can we help people in support groups take care of one another better through social media?

Going back and forth, as I do these days, between the worlds of academic pediatrics and academic journalism, I am struck by the focus in both settings on the potential — and the risks — of social media and on the importance of understanding how communication is changing.

Our children are using social media to accomplish the eternal goals of adolescent development, which include socializing with peers, investigating the world, trying on identities and establishing independence.

In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media issued a clinical report, “The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents and Families.” It began by emphasizing the benefits of social media for children and adolescents, including enhanced communication skills and opportunities for social connections.

“A large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cellphones,” the report noted.

Our job as parents is to help them manage all this wisely, to understand — and avoid — some of the special dangers and consequences of making mistakes in these media. (We can expect the same kind of gratitude that we get for all of our guidance: mixed, of course, with an extra helping of contempt if our technical skills are not up to theirs.)

“Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all harm model, one of the questions parents need to ask is, ‘How is this going to interact with my child’s personality?’ ” said Clay Shirky, who teaches about social media at New York University. “Digital media is an amplifier. It tends to make extroverts more extroverted and introverts more introverted.”

And both parents and researchers need to be sure they understand the subtleties of the ways teenagers interpret social media.

At a 2011 symposium on the Internet and society, two researchers presented information on how teenagers understand negative talk on the Internet. What adults interpret as bullying is often read by teenagers as “drama,” a related but distinct phenomenon.

By understanding how teenagers think about harsh rhetoric, the researchers suggested, we may find ways to help them defend themselves against the real dangers of online aggression.

The problems of cyberbullying and Internet overuse are serious, and the risks of making mistakes online are very real. But even those who treat adolescents with these problems are now committed to the idea that there are other important perspectives for researchers — or parents, or teachers — looking at the brave new universe in which adolescence is taking place.

Social media, said Dr. Rich, “are the new landscape, the new environment in which kids are sorting through the process of becoming autonomous adults — the same things that have been going on since the earth cooled.”

Monday, January 9, 2012

Your essay prompts are below!


1. Does Ron Galella’s style violate the journalism code of ethics?

2. Consider the Marlon Brando case. Was Ron Galella unethical in his handling of Brando before and/or after the assault?

3.  Consider Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s case against Galella: Was he technically violating Jackie’s privacy?  Was he guilty of any violation of human decency, or any other widely accepted moral code?

Friday, January 6, 2012

PHOTOJOURNALISM - THE RIGHTS TO PRIVACY- Review Lester's "Right to Privacy," paying particular attention to the rights of the photojournalist.

Rights to Privacy
By Paul Martin Lester
Photojournalism An Ethical Approach

(c) 1999

When victims of violence and their families, through no fault of their own, are suddenly thrust into the harsh light of public scrutiny, they often bitterly complain. Their private life is suddenly the subject of front-page pictures and articles. Readers are quick to react when they feel a journalist has crossed the line and intruded into a subject's personal moment of grief. Anne Seymour, public affairs director for the National Victim Center in Fort Worth said, "Any time there is a yellow line, some journalists in the interest of news will cross over" (Zuckerman, 1989, p. 49).

Public officials and celebrities also feel that journalists sometimes cross that yellow journalism line in covering their everyday activities. Television actress, Roseanne Barr, who frequently advocates her and her family's right to privacy, told a story on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" (1989, November 20) that illustrates this point. Her mother saw a television camera, Barr said, coming through the window of her home. Barr's mother was forced to lie on the floor to avoid being videotaped.

The judicial system in America has recognize that private and public persons have different legal rights when it comes to privacy. Privacy laws, as can be imagined, are much stricter for private citizens not involved in a news story than for public celebrities who sometimes invite media attention. Journalists need to be aware of the laws that are concerned with privacy and trespass. But ethical behavior should not be guided by what is strictly legal.


Historically, invasion of privacy issues are linked with candid photography. Limitations with the type of camera, lenses, and film in the early days of photography prevented many of the candid moments that are commonplace today. Once cameras became hand-held and lenses and film became faster, amateur and professional photographers were able to make pictures that previously were impossible.

Early news photographers were forced to use bulky cameras that limited the type of picture possible. Candid pictures were simply not possible when subjects quickly spotted a photographer. The photographs of Paul Martin and Jacques-Henri Lartique stand out as wonderful exceptions. They captured many candid moments among 19th-century citizens.

Typical subjects of Martin's candid style were Victoria-era children playing in public parks, women enjoying the surf during holidays, and men working along the busy streets of London (Flukinger, Schaaf, & Meacham, 1977).

It was rare when a photographer could capture a spontaneous news event. More likely, subjects in news and feature assignments were carefully composed by the photographer to create a static or stereotyped look. As Wilson Hicks (1973), author of Words and Pictures wrote, "Instead of picture consciousness, it was a time of camera consciousness. Practically everybody looked at the camera. . . . When the photographer entered a situation of movement involving people, life stopped dead in its tracks and orientated itself to the camera" (pp. 26-27).

The successful documentary photographers during the early years of newspaper photojournalism were the ones who could make pictures that did not have a highly manipulated look. Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine were photographers who used the equipment of their day-large, bulky cameras with slow film and lenses. Although their photographs, for the most part, showed individuals and groups looking into the camera's lens, their pictures are classic documentary statements because of the lack of manipulation by the photographers. It is a rare occurrence to find images by Riis or Hine that show subjects unaware of the camera's presence.

Lewis Hine, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, worked in a factory for long hours during the day when he was a boy. Consequently, his photographs of children suffering for many hours at low pay and with dangerously, fast-moving machines were vivid and disturbing. Child labor laws were passed to protect children, a direct result of his photographs (Pollack, 1977, pp. 91-93).

George Eastman's Amateur Craze

The invention of a faster dry plate film meant that medium-sized and smaller, handheld -cameras could be used. Such cameras allowed amateur and professional photographers to make pictures of unsuspecting subjects. George Eastman came up with a camera he dubbed, the Kodak. The Kodak slogan was, "You push the button-and we do the rest." The camera was small, easy to use, and contained 100 pictures on a dry gelatin roll. When the snapshot shooter had exhausted the roll, the camera was mailed to Rochester, New York where the film was processed, printed, and returned to the owner with the camera and a fresh roll of exposures.

Amateur photographers immediately took snapshots of practically anything that moved with the little Kodaks and other cameras. No one was considered safe as unsuspecting strangers clicked off exposures. The camera craze that began in the 1880s was an international epidemic that prompted retaliation by those upset with photographers taking candid pictures of people without permission. The New York Times "likened the snapshot craze with an outbreak of cholera that had become a I national scourge' " (Jay, 1984, p. 10). A popular poem, a parody of the Kodak slogan was,

Picturesque landscape,
Babbling brook,
Maid in a hammock
Reading a book;
Man with a Kodak
In secret prepared
To picture the maid,
As she sits unawares.
Her two strapping brothers
Were chancing to pass;
Saw the man with the Kodak
And also the lass.
They rolled up their sleeves
Threw off hat, coat and vest
The man pressed the button
And they did the rest! (Jay, 1984, pp. 11-12)

Vigilante associations were formed to protect the honor of unsuspecting women. A brick thrown through a camera's lens was advocated as a possible remedy. The Chicago Tribune wrote in an editorial that "something must be done, and will be done, soon. . . . A jury would not convict a man who violently destroyed the camera of an impudent photographer guilty of a constructive assault upon modest women" (Jay, 1984).

A photographer intent on capturing people in embarrassing or compromising situations was despised by a great many people. Although anti-photography bills were never introduced in America, Victorian London photographers required free official permits to take pictures in parks. Restrictions often included "Persons and groups of persons . . . on Sundays . . . [with] hand cameras" and without tripods (Flukinger et al., 1977). Germany passed a statute prohibiting photography without permission in 1907.

Of newspaper and magazine photographers who put small cameras to use, Bill Jay (1984) in his article, "The Photographer as Aggressor," wrote, "As any impartial observer will admit, no aspect of a life was too private, no tragedy too harrowing, no sorrow too personal, no event too intimate to be witnessed and recorded by the ubiquitous photographer" (p. 12).

Small, hand-held professional cameras, particularly those made by the Leica company, made it possible for photographers to take high quality pictures of people in low-light situations without a subject's knowledge or consent. Two early prolific and respected users of the small cameras were Paul Wolff and Erich Salomon. Wolff became known for his feature pictures where he, according to Hicks (1973), showed that a picture could be made out of any subject. Salomon, a lawyer who took up photography to earn a living after the loss of his family's fortune, made unposed pictures of presidents and statesmen during meetings and public functions. Salomon's images are beautifully composed candid moments of hard-talking politicians caressed by the gentle glow of available light. His photographs were published in several illustrated German publications and became a model for candid pictures for future generations of news photographers. Salomon's photographic career was tragically cut short when he was captured and executed by the Nazis.

Privacy violations would not became an issue if it were not for editors who were willing to publish the revealing, hidden moments. Magazine and newspaper editors once the halftone process became relatively inexpensive and aesthetically acceptable, were eager to fill their pages with photographs that were used, admittedly, to sell more copies. Hicks (1973) summed up the philosophy of the editors of the day with, "Get the picture-nothing else mattered" (p. 25). This was the era of the scoop. Competition was so fierce that photographers would go to great lengths to beat a rival photographer. One of the best known freelance newspaper photographers, Arthur Fellig, gained his reputation for taking pictures of accident and murder victims no one else had. Fellig's motto was, "F/8 and be there." Professionally known as "Weegee," a variation of the popular table entertainment, "Ouija," Fellig, aided by police informants, arrived at news events often before the police (Stettner, 1977).

The Courts Ban Cameras

The era culminated with the trial of Bruno Hauptmann for the kidnapping and murder of aviator, Charles Lindbergh's baby. Over 700 reporters and 125 photographers covered the sensational events of the trial. Although photographs were allowed in the courtroom before the trial, during recesses, and after the trial, there were many abuses by competitive-crazed photographers. After the trial, the American Bar Association issued the 35th canon of Professional and Judicial Ethics. Most states adopted Canon 35 to ban photographers from their courtrooms. Before the ruling, a judge could independently decide whether to ban news photographers.

In the 1950s, Joseph Costa and the NPPA lobbied to appeal the states' ruling. Slowly, acceptance for photographers' presence in the courtroom grew. Florida's cameras-in-the-courtroom model, approved by the Florida Supreme Court, was tested successfully during the Ronnie Zamora trial in 1978 (Kobre, 1980).

In another Florida case, the Supreme Court in 1981 upheld the conviction of two Miami Beach police officers for burglarizing a restaurant. Officers Noel Chandler and Robert Granger felt that they were denied a fair trial by the presence of television and still photojournalists in the courtroom. The Supreme Court allowed individual states to decide how to regulate the coverage of trials. Florida, as with many other states, does not require permission from all participants for photo news coverage, but restrictions were imposed. "Only one television camera and only one still photographer are allowed in the courtroom at one time. Equipment must be put in one place; photographers/camera persons cannot come and go in the middle of the proceeding, and no artificial light is allowed." Other states have opened up their courtrooms to photographers. Federal trials are still off limits for cameras (Nelson & Teeter, 1982).

As opposed to the small, 35mm camera, the bulky 4X5 press cameras were seldom used for candid images. The press camera was simply a hand-held version of the view camera that had to be set on a tripod. The camera only held one 4 X 5-inch negative holder with two sheets of film at a time. The negative holders were awkward to manage. There was no through-the-lens or rangefinder mechanism to aid focusing. After each exposure a new flash bulb had to be inserted into the flash unit while an unexposed film holder had to be inserted in the back of the camera. Despite the availability of small, hand-held cameras, a 1951 survey of 61 newspapers with circulation of over 100,000 showed that 97% of the staff photographers used the 4X5 press cameras (Horrell, 1955).

Arthur Geiselman of the York, Pennsylvania Gazette and Daily was attacked by a crowd at the scene of a child's drowning. "The 4 X 5 is not the camera for this kind of spot news coverage," wrote Geiselman (1959). "1 believe if I had had a 35 millimeter camera I could have avoided trouble. The clumsy, black box is too much in evidence at a time when a camera should be inconspicuous" (p. 13).

The subjects of the press cameras, were for the most part, aware of the photographer's presence, unless the subject was greatly preoccupied. Privacy problems arose when editors chose to use sensational pictures on their front pages. In an era of yellow journalism, photographs contributed greatly to the public's repulsion of news photography as a profession. Photojournalists were labeled as mindless ambulance chasers without a thought for the subjects of the images. As one writer (Edom, 1976) noted, photographers were considered "reporters with their brains knocked out" (p. 26). Such a characterization was misleading because reporters also wrote stories that contributed to the sensational era.

Should a News Subject be Compensated?

Photographers did produce moving photographic documents with large, press cameras, however. The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was a governmental agency set up by the Roosevelt administration to document the weather and economic affects upon people during "The Great Depression." Led by Harvard economics professor Roy Stryker, the photographic unit of the FSA included such household names as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Russell Lee, Carl Mydans, and Arthur Rothstein.

One of the most memorable images of all time came from the FSA collection. Dorothea Lange made "The Migrant Mother," a sad, roadside close-up of a destitute mother with a faraway look and her shy children. Unfortunately, the mother in the portrait, Florence Thompson, complained that Lange received fame for the picture while she lived in relative poverty. Nevertheless, when Mrs. Thompson suffered a stroke and her family could not pay her medical expenses, people around the country donated over $15,000. Many wrote that they were touched by Lange's photograph (see Los Angeles Times, November 18, 1978, p. I and "Symbol of depression," 1983).

Newspaper photographers eventually replaced their 4X5 cameras with more easily manipulated 35mm cameras. Consequently, photojournalism reporting gained respect as many more photojournalists were more inclined to photograph people as they really were rather than stage direct a subject's actions. Private moments that involved social problems were now the subject of photographers. Picture magazines such as the London Post and America's Life and Look ushered in what many considered to be the "Golden Age of Photojournalism." Gene Smith, Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Leonard McCombe, and Bill Eppridge are some of the photographers that worked for the picture magazines.

Eisenstaedt's Time's Square celebration kiss between two strangers, a soldier and a nurse, beautifully shows the joy the world felt that World War 11 was at an end. The picture, however, has been embroiled in controversy as up to 10 sailors have claimed to be the man in the famous picture. The ultimate goal of the claims made by the soldiers is a percentage of the profits Time, Inc. has made throughout the years for the sale of the image.

Smith made classic picture stories of individuals: a country doctor and a nurse mid-wife are two of his favorite stories. McCombe produced one of the first "A Day in the Life" stories with his coverage of a young woman from a small town working in New York City. Bill Eppridge produced one of the most dramatic picture stories in the history of Life magazine. Headlined, "We are animals in a world no one knows," Eppridge and a reporter, James Mills, produced a sensitive and shocking portrait of a young, educated couple forced into prostitution and robbery to feed their $100 a day heroin addiction. Eppridge and Mills received permission to intrude into their daily lives without paying their subjects (Edom, 1980).

Robert Frank and Magazine Photography

Many photographers established a style of photography that was unique to the 35mm film medium. Their images were usually of people in bars or on the street who were unaware of the camera's presence. Inspired by the writings of "beat" novelist, Jack Kerouac, Robert Frank is best known for his gritty portrait of America contained in his book, The Americans. Frank spent more than a year "on the road" through a Guggenheim grant. He made pictures that showed a side of America that contrasted greatly with the pretty picture postcard scenes that typically "documented" America at that time. Although his photographs were severely criticized by photography experts, Frank inspired future generations of photographers who realized that the subjects for photography were not limited to traditional, postcard views.

Photographers such as Diane Arbus, Bruce Davidson, Lee Friedlander, Danny Lyon, Mary Ellen Mark, and Garry Winogrand use a shooting style that opened the streets to subjects previously not photographed.

Magazine photographs developed a more casual visual style as many of the "street photographers" freelanced for the magazines. Magazine images are usually more graphically complicated than straight-forward news photographs because readers spend more time viewing an image in a weekly or monthly magazine.

Curiously, magazine images of hard news subjects can be much more graphically violent and threatening to an ordinary person's privacy without the typical reader uproar found with similar images published in a newspaper. Readers have a more protective, almost personal commitment to their hometown newspaper. Nevertheless, newspaper photographers started to imitate the candid shooting style seen in the magazines. When that style is used for spot news situations in newspapers, subjects and readers sometimes object that their privacy has been violated.

News Photographer magazine has printed several articles that detail the right to privacy of a photographer's subject. In an article titled, "'Inside Story' Inside Photos," a television program hosted by the former state department spokesman for President Carter, Hodding Carter, featured a discussion of controversial images. Editors and photographers in the program generally agreed that a newspaper's mission is to sometimes make people uncomfortable. Although it is unfortunate that people complain when their anonymity is taken away when their picture is published, Hal Buell of the Associated Press remarked that if newspapers do not print pictures that upset people once in awhile, "Don't we stand a chance of the reader losing his credibility in the newspaper?" ("Inside story," 1982, p. 30).

Some critics complain that deadline pressures and competitiveness are responsible for journalists sometimes trampling on the privacy of others. Zuckerman (1989) noted that "News organizations, driven by intense competition, rarely let concern for a victim's privacy get in the way of a scoop" (p. 49).

Hilda Bridges Sues for Her Privacy

A woman in Florida did more than complain about the loss of her privacy. She sued the newspaper for millions of dollars. Hilda Bridges was kidnapped by her estranged husband, Clyde Bridges and forced to remove all of her clothes. He thought that his wife would be unwilling to escape if she were nude. When police surrounded the apartment building, Bridges killed himself. Behind police lines, Scott Maclay of the Cocoa Today newspaper was waiting with a 300mm lens. The photograph Maclay made shows a frightened woman, disrobed, but partially covered by a dishtowel, running with a police official who's face shows deep concern with his hand firmly grasping the woman's shoulder. After several hours of consultation with various editors, Maclay's picture of Hilda Bridges' rescue ran large on the front page. The newspaper's editor said that the picture "best capsulated the dramatic and tragic events" (Hvidston, 1983, p. 5). Some readers later complained that the picture of the scantily clad woman was published to sell additional copies of the newspaper and for no other reason.

Bridges claimed that her privacy had been invaded because she was naked. She testified that the photograph made her want to "crawl away, hoping nobody would see me." A lower court awarded the woman $10,000. On appeal, the decision was overturned. The key in court cases seems to hinge on the conduct of the news photographer or the news medium. "If the conduct is so extreme, so 'beyond all possible bounds of decency' . . . then one may be found guilty of intentional infliction of emotional distress" (Hvidston, 1983, p. 5).

The court in the appeal said that the picture "revealed little more . . . than some bathing suits seen on the beaches. The published photograph is more a depiction of grief, fright, and emotional tension than it is an appeal to other sensual appetites." Furthermore, the court said, "Because the story and photograph may be embarrassing or distressful to the plaintiff does not mean the newspaper cannot publish what is otherwise newsworthy" (Johns, 1984, p. 8).

Ron Galella and Jackie Onassis: Celebrity Photographs

A classic example of a photographer overstepping the bounds of decency was Ron Galella. Galella had one passion in his life-to photograph Jackie Onassis and her family. It was a lucrative passion. He once earned over $20,000 a year just for his pictures of Onassis. But Galella was no "one shot wonder." He followed Onassis and her family wherever he could. Galella was seen taking pictures of her while hiding "behind a coat rack in a restaurant, jumping out from behind bushes into the path of her children, and flicking a camera strap at Onassis while grunting, 'Glad to see me back, aren't you Jackie?" Galella even disguised himself as a Greek sailor and made pictures of Onassis sunbathing in the nude on the island of Scorpios. The pictures were later published in Hustler magazine.

Galella claimed he was simply exercising his right as a journalist under the First Amendment. In two courtroom decisions, (he simply ignored the first decision that ordered he stay at least 25 feet from Onassis) the court said he was guilty of "acts of extremely outrageous conduct." To avoid a possible 6-year prison term and a fine of $120,000, Galella signed an agreement to "never again aim a camera at Mrs. Onassis or her children" ("Photographers pledge," 1982, p. A-27).

Thousands of dollars and careers can be made by photographing famous people either doing extraordinary or quite ordinary actions. Readers seem to enjoy seeing famous people in ordinary situations given the popularity of the publications that use the images and the high prices editors pay to photographers for their pictures. Pictures that show the windblown skirts of a queen, the bikini look of a pregnant princess, and a president slipping down a plane's steps have earned large paychecks for the photographers. The foreign and national press have a tremendous interest in star-studded photographs as the popularity of personality publications and "infotainment" television programs attest.

Photojournalist Ross Baughman suggests that pictures of famous people undergoing ordinary activities need to be taken. Such pictures "can play an important role in democratizing royalty or in letting the public know these people are only human like the rest of us" (Johns, 1984, p. 7).

The intense competition among photographers to come up with unique angles of famous people have led to some obvious excesses. Six helicopters filled with photographers flew over the wedding of movie stars Michael Fox and Tracy Pollan. Recently, photographers have drawn criticism from the public and their colleagues by confronting a famous person until a reaction is visually demonstrated. Comedian Eddie Murphy was recently badgered by a photographer until he angrily reacted. The photographer then took the unflattering portrait of Murphy. Other celebrities such as Cher, Sean Penn, Meryl Streep, and the bodyguards for Prince have all had recent confrontations with overzealous photographers with some resulting in criminal action (Stein, 1988).

Louisiana State University journalism instructor Whitney Mundt said, "The furtive manner in which paparazzi operate in order to track down famous individuals is inherently unethical." Mundt suggested that photojournalists should not photograph famous people simply because they have familiar faces, but wait until they are involved in a situation that has "intrinsic news value" (cited in Johns, 1984, p. 8). A photographer who saw Zsa Zsa Gabor walking her dog would avoid taking her picture, according to Mundt's standard. A photographer, however, who saw Gabor slapping a Beverly Hills policeman would take the photograph. Such a standard, according to Mundt, "would have photojournalism which is no longer exploitive, and would no longer endanger the credibility of the press." The trend in that direction may have started with the publisher of The People newspaper in London who fired his editor for printing pictures of 7-year-old Prince William urinating in a public park ("London editor," 1989).

Although photographers have been criticized for their over-zealous candid coverage of the rich and famous, studio portraits of stars, for the most part, are carefully controlled public relations pictures. Jim Marshall, a photographer represented in the book, Rolling Stone The Photographs, criticized the magazine for accepting the strict photographic demands of stars and their representatives. "The stakes are much higher now," Marshall explained, "and with that kind of money at stake, everybody is very edgy about everything. Now we're seeing only what the artists and their managers want us to see. I think we are the lesser for it" (Sipchen, 1989, p. E- 1).


A quarterly publication of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press titled, "Photographers' Guide to Privacy," is helpful in sorting out the areas of privacy law that affect news photographers. Privacy law is divided into four areas:

* unreasonable intrusion into the seclusion of another,

* public disclosure of private facts,

* placing a person in a false light in the public eye, and

* misappropriation of a name or likeness for commercial gain (Strongman, 1987).

Unreasonable Intrusion

Consent is the most important factor when dealing with unreasonable intrusion or public disclosure of private facts. Generally, anything that can be seen in plain, public view can be photographed. Pictures in private places require permission. A photographer must be sure that the person who gives permission has the authority to grant the request. Some states will not accept the authority of a police or fire official or a landlord for a photographer to enter a private home. Written consent is preferred over oral consent. The Galella case was certainly an example of unreasonable intrusion on public property. The Lindbergh case was another.

Disclosure of Private Facts

Trespass laws require that photojournalists have the permission of an owner of a property before access can be gained. However, court rulings have sent mixed messages. A tenant at an alleged substandard apartment complex in Philadelphia gave permission to a television crew to enter the property. The landlord sued, but loss the case. Permission from a tenant is acceptable. A Kansas film crew lost its case when it was shown they used deceitful methods to obtain permission to film a nonpublic area of a restaurant. Misrepresentation is not acceptable. A Florida newspaper photographer was found not guilty of trespassing after obtaining permission from police and fire officials to photograph the body remains of a young girl killed in a fire. Permission from police officials is acceptable. However, that same Florida Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision in the case of a television crew who obtained permission from police officials to enter a private home that was part of a drug raid. States have different laws for journalists and trespassing. Editors should put together a package with the newspaper's legal representatives for all journalists on their staff telling them the trespassing laws that apply in their state (Sherer, 1986a).

False Light

Dr. Michael Sherer (1987) of the University of Nebraska explained the concept of false light. "Generally speaking," Sherer wrote, "a photojournalist can be found guilty of false light invasion of privacy if a person's image is placed before the public . . . in an untrue setting or situation" (p. 18). For there to be a false light decision against a photographer, the image must be highly offensive to a reasonable person, the photographer must have known that the image was false, or the photographer acted "with 'reckless disregard' (in other words, did not care) about whether the information was true or not" (p. 18).

The publication of a "stoutish" woman was ruled acceptable as the court noted, "There is no occasion for law to intervene in every case where someone's feelings are hurt." Filming by a camera crew of a man holding hands with a woman who was not his wife was ruled "not an act of extremely outrageous conduct." A person accidentally identified falsely in a caption does not constitute outrageous conduct. However, the publisher of Cinema-X magazine was cited for a "misidentified . . . photograph of a nude woman in a section of the magazine featuring I aspiring erotic actors and actresses' " (Sherer, 1986b, p. 26).


The fourth area of trouble for a photojournalist in a privacy case is using a person's image for monetary gain without that person's permission. Clarence Arrington sued the New York Times for a picture it printed on the cover of its Sunday magazine illustrating an article, "Making It in the Black Middle Class." Arrington's "suit for invasion of constitutional and common law right to privacy was dismissed, but his complaint based on the sale of the photograph (by Contact Press Images-CPI-to the New York Times) was upheld in the New York Court of Appeals." The newspaper could not be sued because of the First Amendment protection, but CPI and the freelance photographer, Gianfranco Gorgoni, could have a claim against them. Unfortunately, the case was settled out of court without a ruling that might have protected picture agencies and freelance photographers (Henderson, 1989). A photographer may have the right to photograph anyone in public, but problems will occur when that image is published and is used to represent a class of individuals without that person's consent (Coleman, 1988). Freelance photographers need to be especially careful. One of the main reasons magazine editors and picture agency managers require releases from freelance photographers is to protect them from lawsuits by subjects.

When covering a news event, courts have ruled that photographers do not have to conform to rigid rules required for a subject's consent. Nevertheless, news media organizations are sometimes sued by individuals who argue that because the newspaper makes money, their violation of privacy case is valid. Most of these cases go in favor of the news organization on appeal because of the newsworthiness of the images. Freelance photographers, as Sherer (1987) noted, "need to pay special attention to the appropriation concept. There have been cases in which the selling of a photograph without the permission of those in the image had been held to be an appropriation of the person's likeness" (p. 18).

The Where and When of Picture Taking

Because many readers react strongly to pictures that seem to violate the privacy of others, it is important to be clear on the legal and ethical issues surrounding the right to privacy. An editorial writer in a 1907 edition of The Independent commented, "As regards photography in public it may be laid as a fundamental principle that one has a right to photograph anything that he has the right to look at" ("The ethics and etiquette," 1907, pp. 107-109). Such a declaration is not true for today's more complicated society, however. Ken Kobre (1980) in his textbook, Photojournalism The Professionals' Approach listed where and when a photojournalist can take pictures:

Where and When Pictures Can be Taken

Public Area

Street (Anytime)

Sidewalk (Anytime)

Airport (Anytime)

Beach (Anytime)

Park (Anytime)

Zoo (Anytime)

Train station (Anytime)

Bus station (Anytime)

In Public School

Preschool (Anytime)

Grade school (Anytime)

High school (Anytime)

Univ. campus (Anytime)

Class in session (Permission)

In Public Area--With Restrictions

Police headquarters (Restricted)

Govt. buildings (Restricted)

Courtroom (Permission)

Prison (Permission)

Legislative chambers (Permission)

In Medical Facilities

Hospital (Permission)

Rehab. center (Permission)

Emergency van (Permission)

Mental health center (Permission)

Doctor's office (Permission)

Clinic (Permission)

Private but Open-to-the-Public

Movie theater lobby (If No Objections)

Business office (If No Objections)

Hotel lobby (If No Objections)

Restaurant (If No Objections)

Casino (Restricted)

Museum (Restricted)

Shooting from Public Street into Private Area

Window of home (Anytime)

Porch (Anytime)

Lawn (Anytime)

In Private

Home (If No Objections)

Porch (If No Objections)

Lawn (If No Objections)

Apartment (If No Objections)

Hotel room (If No Objections)

Car (If No Objections)

If photographers persist in harassing their subjects, courts can further limit their actions in public and with famous persons. If courts can limit the actions of photographers making images of famous individuals, there may come a time when injured and grieving subjects are ruled off limits by sympathetic courtroom decisions as was done in some countries during the early years of photography.

Legal rights should not be the guiding principles for ethical consideration. What is legally acceptable is not always the right action to take. Staff photographer Sherry Bockwinkel of the Bellevue, Washington Journal-Gazette photographed a photojournalist who learned a lesson about the ethics of privacy. During a rope-descending performance, a Japanese acrobat fell to his death. A television videographer moved close to the scene as attempts were made to help the dancer. Suddenly a spectator angrily pushed him back. Although the news event occurred on a public sidewalk in downtown Seattle, managing editor, Jan Brandt wrote that the videographer "had moved into a sensitive area. Bockwinkel defines it as personal space, others call it invading privacy. His presence had become an intrusion seen and felt by those close to the scene and the feeling spilled over onto other photographers" ("Boundaries," 1986, p. 24).

A photographer must be aware of the privacy laws that apply to his or her jurisdiction, but that photographer must also realize that credibility, a highly valued principle, might be lost if a publicly grieving or famous person is unduly harassed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Broadcast Journalists: Read before shooting!

Online video & entrepreneurial journalism

By Adam Westbrook

10 common video storytelling mistakes (and how to avoid them)

Posted in Online Video by Adam Westbrook on October 24, 2011

Five years after Youtube’s birth there’s probably not a newsroom in the land that isn’t trying to do video journalism in some way or another.

I say ‘trying’ because, as you’ll probably have seen, the vast amount of online video produced just doesn’t cut it. It’s long, boring, technically poor – and amateurish. This is a big shame because online video – done well – has the power to be an art form, to touch people, to make them understand something, to make them care.

As well as training journalists all over Europe in how to do video storytelling, and watching a helluva lot of video stories, I’ve also been teaching student journalists at Kingston University how to do video for more than two years. And in that time I’ve seen all the classic mistakes made. Here’s my run down – as always, if I’ve missed one off, stick it in the comments.

10 common video mistakes (and how to avoid them)

.01 you don’t prioritize sound

I’m actually gonna stick this one at the top because it’s probably the most common mistake. I’ve seen far too many video stories where the interview is practically inaudible, drowned out by traffic, air conditioning or something else. The cause? Not using an external microphone.

Audiences seem quite happy to tolerate poor quality pictures – they don’t mind mobile phone footage for example; but they will not tolerate crappy sound. End of. Invest in a good quality clip microphone for interviews and a Rodemic or similar for on board sound.

.02 you get too caught up in kit

We’ve all met one of these guys before: a ‘depth-of-field-Dave’ who’s more interested in whether you’re shooting on a prime lens than what the story is. They’re the sort of folk who make those music montages on Vimeo where everything looks very pretty and is out of focus, but expresses no meaning.

Kit matters – to an extent – but I believe a good story is a good story whether you shot it on the iPhone 4S or a Canon 5D MkII. At the same time, a poor story is not rescued by a shallow depth-of-field…in fact, it looks just that: shallow.

(NOTE: you’ll almost certainly be able to trawl back through the archives of this blog and find posts where I rave about depth-of-field: let’s just say I’ve grown as a film maker!)

Image: Francois Schnell on Flickr

.03 you don’t use a tripod

What’s the quickest way to ensure professional looking footage in any situation? Don’t move the camera!

It’s that simple. Flip cams, iPhones and DSLR cameras are the most susceptible to looking amateurish when hand-held, because they’re so light. Invest in a light set of Manfrotto sticks and use them for everything. Of course, handheld footage is powerful, and necessary, in certain situations – but more often I see it used as a technique through laziness rather than intention.

.04 you don’t shoot in sequences

This one is the bane of anyone who has to teach video to fresh faces: I personally invest hours of class time in explaining, demonstrating and showing examples of sequences in action – and when they don’t appear in finished pieces it’s exasperating.

Sequences – put simply – are a series of shots, showing a single action, creating the illusion of continuous movement. They are the hallmark of cinema, television news and now online video. What’s the difference between amateurs and professionals? Pros shoot sequences.

.05 you parachute into stories

One great advantage of online video journalism over television news is the absence of such tight deadlines. Online, journalists in the future are likely to work inside niches, and therefore will have time to build up contacts, develop relationships and explore stories before taking out the camera.

I can’t underestimate the importance of spending time with your subject/character before filming. Photojournalists have always done this very well, and the photogs who’ve moved to video have brought with them their investment in character. Those moving from television tend to do things the TV way: a quick pre-interview on the phone, then turn up, get the shots and get out.

Which one do you think works better?

.06 you try to copy television

On a similar theme, another big mistake new video journalists make is trying to copy what they see on CNN. Let me be clear: television news is highly formulaic, and it’s a formula designed to work within the tough day-to-day rigour of turning a story round in 3 hours. It works great for TV and that’s good for them.

But to see that formula infect this new genre of online video is heartbreaking in someways – partly because it is so young, and the potential so great. So switch off your TV – and if you have to seek inspiration from anywhere, try your local cinema.

Image credit: Dave Kellman on Flickr

.07 your stories are too long

It’s a well worn (although difficult to back up) belief that online attention spans are short and therefore video should be equally short too. Whether this is true or not, video should always be as short as it could possibly be. As Orwell said, ‘never use a long word when a short one will do.’

If you can tell your story in 90 seconds, why bulk it out to 3 minutes? You’re just wasting everyone’s time. This requires a certain ruthlessness – but if you can train yourself to ‘kill your babies’ as the saying goes, you’ll be a better journalist for it.

.08 you don’t understand storytelling

There are too many journalists who call themselves ‘multimedia storytellers’ or ‘digital storytellers’ or ‘visual storytellers’ but who have never read Robert McKee’s Story or The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell (NB: affiliate links).

Storytelling is an ancient art, a craft, that survives human generations because it is without doubt the best way to help people comprehend the world around them. If you care about storytelling at all, you’ll try to master its secrets.

.09 you tell and don’t show

I remember the first video story I did while training at City University some years ago. We felt pretty proud of ourselves: we had a good story and what we made looked like a proper TV news package. But our lecturer wasn’t impressed: ‘you’ve just made radio with some pictures over the top’.

Image: mac_ivan on Flickr

And she was right: our film was laden with long rambling voice over scripts, dull soundbites and the pictures were wallpaper that didn’t add to the story. I’ve always remembered that lesson, and now remember the importance of using pictures to show the story happening and not to describe it.

.10 you don’t play to video’s strengths

Finally, video today is used because it can be, and not because it should be. There is too much video coverage of conferences, long interviews with boring people, and attempts to use video to cover council politics.

Video is good at some things: emotion, action, movement, detail, processes. It is terrible at other things: numbers, meetings, politics, court cases, and anything that doesn’t happen on camera.

The solution? Use video for its strengths – and keep the camera in your bag for the rest.

Some of these are one-step quick actions which will instantly improve your video storytelling; the rest are mindsets and attitudes that take longer to change. But until we get past those, online video storytelling will not improve.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Temptations of the Internet

How copyright law's "fair use" doctrine can help you legally use the things you find on the web.

Originally published in Dow Jones Newspaper Fund's Adviser's Update, Spring 2006

by Gary Clites

The laws of copyright and plagiarism have been a challenge for publication advisers as long as there have been photocopiers. But with the advent of the Internet and students' easy access to the intellectual property of others, the temptation on deadline to fill those little holes in the newspaper with material easily downloadable has become more and more intense.

Let's face it. We all know that it is highly unlikely a major publication or corporation would sue a student newspaper for grabbing a photo off the 'net to fill a space. But we also know it is bad educational policy to allow our students to bend the rules of copyright to solve their layout problems. Generally, that means requiring students to get written or at least verbal permission before using anything they download off the Web in a student publication. We also know how difficult it can be to get professionals to respond to student requests for permission to publish.

A little known tenet of copyright law may allow you to use some of the items students commonly download off the Internet without getting permission and in a perfectly legal manner.

"Fair Use" is a concept within copyright law which allows for the use or reproduction of copyrighted material under certain circumstances and for particular purposes. Specifically, Section 107 of Title 17 of the United States Code related to copyright law states that: "...the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright." (To read the complete section, go to

What does this mean to student publications? The portions of the law which refer to fair use for criticism, comment and news reporting can allow student reporters, especially those writing entertainment reviews, to legally download and republish portions of text from web sites and books, lines of dialogue from movies and TV shows, portions of lyrics for CD reviews, and, more usefully, illustrations to go along with any of these stories.

Let's be honest. Most of what our students want to download for use in their publications is not snippets of movie dialogue or quotations from novels, but rather bright, professional photos and art they can use to dress up their pages. Does copyright law's reference to "fair use" mean that students have a right to grab any illustration they want off the Internet and republish it? Hardly.

Fair use does allow for the republication of small amounts of material taken from the original owner of the copyright if the purpose is to convey the flavor and nature of the thing being written about and if the use does not diminish the value of the copyrighted material. Huh?

While the law is intentionally flexible and vague, in practice, (and remember, though I have two degrees in journalism, I am not an attorney) it means that students can probably legally use a lot of the things they find on the web. Students could illustrate a review of Seventeen magazine with a photo of the cover of the magazine. For a review of the movie Poseidon, they could go to Warner Brothers' official web site for the film and legally download a photo of a scene from the movie to illustrate the article. For a story about new Fall TV shows, they could visit the sites of the network programs and legally download publicity photos of the shows talked about in the article. For an article about the work and career of Green Day, students could legally visit the band's own official web site, download publicity photos of the group on stage, and then scan the cover of their latest album to complete their need for illustrations.

All of this would commonly be considered fair use of the material and, one might note, would constitute student journalists using the same kind of illustrations and publicity materials that are commonly distributed to writers for major press outlets by the studios and stars to generate the publicity and coverage they need to promote their products. Copyright law asks two things of your students, however: That they get their material directly from the owner of the copyright and that they identify the owner of the copyright when they use it. This requires that a note be published along with any illustration indicating the source of the material ("photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures," for example).

What are the limits of the fair use doctrine? A student writing a story about Shaquille O'Neal might be able legally to visit his official website,, to grab a publicity photo. She could not, however, visit Sports Illustrated's site to download a photo of Shaq published by that magazine. Doing so would definitely violate the magazine's copyright. A student writing about the MySpace web site could legally download and publish the site's logo. He could probably not, however, legally publish copyrighted photos of bands included on various teenager's MySpace pages since the photos do not come directly from the band and the copyright ownership is in question. If an individual band has its own MySpace site, using a photo belonging to the band in a story about them would, however, be legal.

And while a student writing about the school shootings at Santee High School in California could probably visit the school's own web site and download a photo of the school from that site (something my students did), she could definitely not borrow a photo from of students fleeing from the shootings without getting permission from the copyright owner, either the Post or a third party like the Associated Press.

The crucial things to remember are that to be legally available for "fair use," an image must be directly illustrative of the thing you are reviewing or commenting on in print; it must be copied directly from the source which must be a subject of the article and the owner of the copyright and; it must be accompanied by a note which acknowledges the owner of the copyright.

Fair use will never allow students to legally download news photos or other such material which belongs legally to other professional publications. It can, however, allow them to legally illustrate reviews and other features about entertainment and public figures who make their images available over the Internet.

(For more information on "Fair Use" and other copyright issues, visit the Student Press Law Center's excellent legal resources at For an excellent in depth article about the subject by an attorney, read Barbara Weil Gall's article "What is 'Fair Use' in Copyright Law?" on the Gigalaw web site at

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Use your voice!

Now that you've read the first three chapters, choose a character and retell the story thus far using that character's voice.  You may choose from Scout, Jem, Dill, Cal, Atticus, Miss Caroline Fisher, Miss Stephanie Crawford or Boo.  Try to be original.  Due by 8 p.m. Sunday, September 25.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Think in pictures.

Review the best of the 2010-2011 school year of this journalism/digital photography course at Ventura High School.  What makes these photographs so powerful?  What might they have in common?  How can you take some of these models and apply them to your work in our class?  Access the site using the link below:

Due Monday, September 19.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Welcome to journalism!

Please review the selected video clip on (link below).  Given a position of authority in this news station, how would you respond to the reporter's error? Why do you believe the NAACP is considered an appropriate source for response to this story?  Join the blog and comment by Wednesday, September 8.