Ethical Photojournalism: Maintaining the Integrity and Public Trust in Journalism

It is so easy to doctor an image, edit or modify it to improve the intensity of the subject photographed.  But this misleads the public into thinking the untrue is true.

The high demand for photographic perfection requires strong ethical photojournalism to maintain integrity and trust with the public.

It used to be that photojournalism was thought to capture a moment in time, to “freeze” the truth for all to see.

But now with the pressure to get that perfect shot and get it to your editor before the other photographers, it is easy to create that shot using photo manipulation.

One well-known photojournalist Brian Walski of the Los Angeles Times fell to that pressure when he combined two Iraqi war images to create one stunning image according to Kenneth Irby founder of Poynter’s photojournalism program.


It is extremely important that photojournalist follow a strict guideline when it comes to ethical photography.

The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) stated in its Code of Ethics that photographers should keep the content of the image intact.

“Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context.  Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in anyway that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects”.

Other things to remember in dealing with ethics in photojournalism is to never try to direct the situation to make that perfect shot.

According to David Brewer a journalist and media consultant “never expose a subject to danger in order to improve the shot; take what is natural, warts and all”.

For a better understanding of maintaining the integrity of photojournalism and the public trust watch this video.

Courtney Yeager

About Courtney Y

Hello, I am a Freelance Photographer. I love capturing a moment before it is lost forever. The mind forgets, but a photograph helps remind you of what is important, of a long forgotten point in your life. I love freezing that moment, so it can never be forgotten. Life passes in a blink of an eye and the camera, helps preserve that spark that passes so quickly.
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