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Kathleen Carroll Presents Lecture On Photojournalism Ethics

Kathleen Carroll, Executive Editor of the Associated Press, presented the Oweida Lecture in Journalism Ethics on Wednesday night in Kern Auditorium, emphasizing the specific code of ethics that comes hand in hand with photojournalism.

Photography, unlike video, can have the power to capture a moment in time and highlight something that was once invisible to the human eye. While this can feel truthful, photographs often have the dangerous power to distort the truth.

Carroll cited photographs of different political figures, like those of 2012 presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and French President Francois Hollande. Both figures were subjected to intense media scrutiny over embarrassing snapshots that captured only a small fraction in time. While neither photo was edited, Carroll says that this kind of photo presents what is “not a true picture, it’s a misleading picture.”

The Agence France-Presse stopped circulating the photo of the French leader, but only after it had been shared thousands of times all over social media.

The Associated Press editor also cited the photography of Emilio Morenatti, who documented Pakistani acid attack victims. But before he could photograph the female victims, Morenatti needed to build trust and intimacy. Carroll noted that in order to view photographs as harrowing as Morenatti’s, you have to consider all of the “hard work [Morenatti] did to establish the relationship with these people to tell their story.”

When it comes to photography, there is no easy way to categorize photographs as ethical or unethical.

“This isn’t chemistry folks, there is no right answer,” Carroll said. “But you have to know what your standards are, and you have to know what it takes to take accurate photographs that are also true.”

Correction: A previous story said that the Associated French Press had stopped circulating the photo. In fact, it was the French news agency Agence France-Presse.

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About the Author

Claire Marchon

Contributor for Onward State, from the San Fransisco, Bay Area. I am probably the biggest Simon & Garfunkel fan you've ever met; I might also be the only Simon & Garfunkel fan under 50 you've ever met. Either way I think it is very important you know I love Simon & Garfunkel.

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