Photojournalists, especially traditional ones, want time, distance, and editors between when they shoot and when a photo makes it to the paper or the website. Kamber says that when he was at The New York Times, in the few instances where he photographed women who had been sexually assaulted or in other sensitive situations, “it was not uncommon for half a dozen editors to contact me before those photos were used.” They would ask questions like, “Do you have pictures that don’t show their face? Does the woman know what she’s consenting to? What about her family? Does she have children that will be embarrassed with this? Is this going to impact her legal situation in any way?”
“That’s real journalism,” says Kamber.
The piece “isn’t the nicest article“, according to Arnade. One of his regular subjects contradicts his assertion that he has never offered to pay his subjects directly for having their photo taken. But the article does give him the space to articulate his own perspective:
For photojournalists, detachment is the ethical way to approach a fraught power dynamic. Arnade thinks it’s cowardice. “What journalists have done is put up very solid walls so they don’t have to worry about the gray, but the gray needs to be talked about.”
International Media Support’s Annual Report for 2015-2016 presents the results of their support to independent media and access to information in countries affected by armed conflict, authoritarian regimes and political transition. In his introduction, Jesper Højberg, the IMS Executive Director, wrote about why ethical journalism remains so important:
In a year where the greatest influx of refugees seen by Europe since World War II dominated headlines and pressured government aid budgets, I have been asked on several occasions why support to media development in conflict zones, humanitarian disasters and countries in the midst of democratic transition should be a priority.
The answer is of course that without access to reliable, relevant information, people are not empowered to rebuild their broken societies or to influence future development efforts. We know from more than a decade of support to independent media in conflict that reliable and trustworthy information is the one thing that people caught in instability, armed conflict or humanitarian disasters need. Their survival and their future livelihoods depend on it. Media often becomes polarised during conflict and may disseminate information that exacerbates rather than reduces tension. This is why access to information and support to ethical and professional journalism is so essential.
Bill Hinchberger writes for the Global Forum for Media Development on the ethics of funding media development projects:
The best estimates suggest that only about 0.5% of official development assistance, roughly USD 650 million per year, goes to media development. If you think that seems low, factor in a new trend: Calls for Proposals that increasingly feature Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). One fear is that CVE could eat into funding for institution building and other core endeavors. The conundrum doesn’t stop at dollar (or euro) signs. By accepting CVE-related mandates, media development organizations could compromise themselves by collaborating with what some may consider questionable security/military initiatives while at the same time endangering both the safety and credibility of their field staff and those who work for the organizations they support on the ground.
Dr. Leanne Townsend and Prof. Claire Wallace of the University of Aberdeen have produced a guide to researching social media. The introduction notes:
Social media platforms are now utilised as key locations for networking, socialising and importantly, for reflecting on all aspects of everyday life. Such online spaces therefore hold vast quantities of naturally-occurring data on any number of topics, from consumer behaviours, to attitudes towards pro-environmental policies, to political views and preferences. This provides researchers with a huge opportunity to gather data that would otherwise have taken much time and resource to obtain. Yet this opportunity is accompanied by responsibility to ensure that how we obtain and reuse such data is done to the highest possible ethical standards. Traditional ethics frameworks can inform researchers to some extent in this, but social media data brings new contextual challenges which the more traditional approaches are not equipped to deal with. This calls for a new consideration of best practice in this domain.