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Scholastic photojournalists and the publication of graphic, spot news images

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A case study examination of how scholastic photojournalists compare with their advisers and professional photojournalists regarding the publication of various images from the Boston Marathon bombing. This presentation also shows how the case study approach and use of current events can be included into the classroom.

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Scholastic photojournalists and the publication of graphic, spot news images

  1. 1. Warning: This presentation contains graphic content. A presentation for the Midwinter Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Secondary Education Division, St. Petersburg, Florida January 5-7, 2015 “Scholastic photojournalists and the publication of graphic, spot news images: 
 A comparison with professionals and media advisers”
  2. 2. Scholastic photojournalists 
 and the publication of 
 graphic, spot news images Presented by Bradley Wilson, Ph.D. Midwestern State University
  3. 3. Ethics: An Age-Old Discussion Ethical issues may pit the photographer’s professional duties against his or her own conscience. Ken Kobré
  4. 4. Discussion on ethics “Every day, every edition, we face challenging decisions. We know that many of the calls we make in a few minutes on deadline can have a lifelong effect for someone, particularly a subject of a story. We consider it an awesome responsibility.” David Boardman Seattle Times
  5. 5. “Although many editors found the images [of 9/11] disturbing, the overwhelming reason for publishing them was that they added to the visual storytelling about what happened during and after the terrorists attacks. Many editors believed that readers needed to be exposed to the disturbing images in order to fully understand the story of the day.” Renee Martin Kratzer and Brian Kratzer “How Newspapers Decided to Run Disturbing 9/11 Photos” Newspaper Research Journal, Winter 2003 Use of case studies
  6. 6. 6 Use of case studies
  7. 7. Use of current events
  8. 8. Sports Illustrated, December, 2012
  9. 9. Never Hard news Feature Illustration Always 0 10 20 30 40 50 19.17 25.83 11.67 2.5 40.83 22.64 29.25 11.32 1.89 34.91 27.76 30.6 8.54 2.49 30.6 Professionals (n=285) College students/advisers (n=108) High school students/advisers (n=120) Sports Illustrated, on Nov. 26, 2012, altered the color of the jerseys in the football players at Baylor University. In which of the following photograph types would you accept this computer editing change? Percent
  10. 10. Boston: Another Study in Tragedy I always wondered what it would be like when I see photographers covering this stuff all over the world. It’s haunting to be a journalist and have to cover it. I don’t ever want to have to do that again. John Tlumacki Photo by John Tlumacki
  11. 11. Research questions Do high school students differ from professional photojournalists regarding the publication of graphic, spot news photos? If so, how? Do high school students differ from their advisers regarding the publication of graphic, spot news photos? If so, how?
  12. 12. Yes No 0 25 50 75 100 37.3 62.8 18.9 81 12.9 87.1 Professionals (n=287) High school students (n=57) High school advisers (n=101) Online, huffingtonpost.com ran the image 
 with no alteration. Was this acceptable? Percent STUDENTS & PROS t = 1.25 p > 0.11 no difference between students and professionals STUDENTS & ADVISERS t = 2.23 p > 0.01* significant difference between students and advisers
  13. 13. Comments from students “This image shows the whole truth of the Boston Marathon bombing. When viewers see this picture, they soon get a grasp on how extreme the bombing actually was.” “I would run this photo unaltered because it is a hard news photo.” “Run the image because it's hard news.” “If I were in his situation, I would probably not want the photo to run.” “Why would a runner want to show anyone this moment of weakness? This is against his privacy.”
  14. 14. “It shows the reality of violence and the terror of the situation.” “This image is unnecessary.” “I wouldn't use it at all — altered or not — because it's just too horrific.” “The decent person in me feels that this person should have a choice about whether or not to be exposed in this way at their most vulnerable.” “HIS FAMILY!” Comments from advisers
  15. 15. Comments from professionals “As journalists, we should show the disturbing side of events such as a terror attack. We owe the audience a warning before they see this.” “Acceptable as news. Was it in good taste, absolutely not.” “Grotesque, but real.” “It's not appropriate for every audience, just like pornography isn't.” “Our job is to show the truth”
  16. 16. Online, huffingtonpost.com ran this image with no alteration. Was this acceptable? Percent Yes No 0 25 50 75 100 16.7 83.3 20.7 79.3 8 91.9 Professionals (n=287) High school students (n=57) High school advisers (n=101) STUDENTS & PROS t = 2.71 p > 0.00** significant difference between students and professionals STUDENTS & ADVISERS t = 0.65 p > 0.26 no difference between students and advisers
  17. 17. Comments from students “I would only run it if the subjects agreed to the photo being released because of how graphic it is” “This picture is real and very powerful. Why shouldn't you share it to the public?” “This photo is too graphic for some viewers, I'd run it with a disclaimer for how graphic it is.” “It shows the whole, raw truth of the Boston bombing.” “This is NOT ACCEPTABLE.... very disturbing.” “Although the picture shows the situation and what was happening, it is a lot of blood and it might have been too much to show the public.”
  18. 18. “They should run a warning about graphic images. Having people see the horror of this incident is a valid reason for the photo, but people should be warned about what is coming. This should never be on a front page of a newspaper that small children could accidentally see.” “Although there is a lot of blood in the picture, the injuries of the people pictured are not graphic.” “It tells the story better than any words.” “We can't sanitize real news.” “What is real should be shown. No apologies are needed.” Comments from advisers
  19. 19. Comments from professionals “News is news. You can't alter a photo to fit your agenda.” “It's what happened. End of story.” “It happened.” “It was run for the shock value not to inform.” “National ONLINE standards are different from our local print area. It would NOT run in our print product and likely would not be part of our online report.” “Invasive and unnecessary.” “Distasteful as it is, it was a horrible news event. Such photographs hopefully will carry some influence in making gun laws much stronger in this country!”
  20. 20. Comments on comments
  21. 21. Comments on comments Words Students Advisers Pros “Too graphic” 23% 40% 18% “Truth” 20% 7% 10% “Acceptable” 12% 6% 8% “Hard news” “Spot news” “Breaking news” 12% 9% 13% “Horrific” 5% 5% 3% “Warning” 5% 13% 7% “Privacy” 4% 1% 3% “It happened” 2% 3% 2%
  22. 22. Comments on comments Words Students Advisers Pros “Too graphic” 23% 40% 18% “Truth” 20% 7% 10% “Acceptable” 12% 6% 8% “Hard news” “Spot news” “Breaking news” 12% 9% 13% “Horrific” 5% 5% 3% “Warning” 5% 13% 7% “Privacy” 4% 1% 3% “It happened” 2% 3% 2%
  23. 23. Discussion From where do high school students get their sense of what is ethically right? “Scholastic journalism programs are in a unique position to effectuate a program of ethical reasoning targeted to our impressionable youth who are, in many cases, searching for moral direction.” Louis Day and John M. Butler “The Teaching of Ethics and Moral Reasoning in Scholastic Journalism: 
 The Pedagogical Imperative” 1989
  24. 24. “The photojournalist cannot escape responsibility for unethical shots. He is the first gatekeeper. The photographer makes the initial decision. And since our work is often done in a split second with no time to think, our ethical standards have to be considered before they are tested.” Ben Brink, photojournalist Discussion
  25. 25. “Since many practicing journalists receive their first formal training on the high school newspaper, it is imperative that their education be well-grounded in the ethical standards of the profession.” Louis Day and John Butler Discussion
  26. 26. By Bradley Wilson, PhD Midwestern State University bradley.wilson@mwsu.edu bradleywilson08@gmail.com Twitter: @bradleywilson09 A presentation for the Midwinter Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Secondary Education Division, St. Petersburg, Florida January 5-7, 2015 “Scholastic photojournalists and the publication of graphic, spot news images: 
 A comparison with professionals and media advisers”

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