Code of Ethics

Whether you are a journalism major or not, you must understand and adhere to standard, ethical journalistic practices for this course. A code of ethics in journalism helps preserve the integrity and the credibility of the profession. Journalists operate as trustees of the public, and without credibility, there is no incentive for the public to trust journalists.

Visual journalism adheres to the same principles as all journalism, particularly to the concepts of fairness and accuracy. But visual mediums bring their own set of challenges. All students in this course will be expected to adhere to the National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics. You can view it here:

NPPA Code of Ethics

While we will discuss these issues at length over the course of the semester, please especially note #5 in the standards section: “While photographing subjects do not intentionally contribute to, alter, or seek to alter or influence events.”

This means NO STAGING. Do not ask your subjects to do anything, except – perhaps – to ignore you as best they can. If you miss a shot, don’t ask your subject to re-do something for your benefit. Among the most important skills in photojournalism are planning and anticipation – to be in the right place, at the right time, in order to capture meaningful moments. If you miss a moment, however, it is not okay to re-create it. That is dishonest and misleading, and there is always something else to shoot.  If a subject offers to stage something for you, respectfully decline. Your role as a photojournalist is to be a witness, not a participant.

The only exceptions for this rule are portraits and head shots. You may ask a subject to pose for a portrait or a head shot, but the pose must be obvious to the viewer. Do not ever represent a portrait as a candid photograph if the subject’s actions were solicited by you or done solely for your benefit. Our first couple of shooting assignments are primarily ones designed to learn technical control. Unless otherwise noted, all subsequent assignments are expected to be candid and honest representations of events and actions as they occurred.