Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
These 45 words make the United States a unique country by allowing journalists to report with the use of a free press. The First Amendment not only helps journalists, but also helps every citizen by allowing them the freedom of speech. As a college photojournalism student, the first amendment allows me the freedom to capture newsworthy photos without fear of breaking the law. Press rights also allow journalists access to events that the public would not ordinarily be able to access in order to report on things such as court proceedings.
When someone sets out to become a photojournalist, they must be aware that there are ethical standards that must be followed to be successful in this industry. Photojournalism ethics can be described in three approaches: the golden rule, utilitarian, and absolutist.
The utilitarian approach to photojournalism allows the photographer to take the hard pictures, like accident scenes or murder victims, and know that they are taking that picture to help people and spread awareness. By taking that picture, the photographer can feel good about the fact that their picture just might save a life, even though it can be extremely difficult to take such pictures.
The golden rule approach says that a photojournalist should treat others how they would want to be treated. This can sometimes get in the way of taking newsworthy stories since no one would want their picture taken after an accident or other situation that may be upsetting.
Finally, the absolutist approach says that photojournalists should let people have their privacy no matter what. This can really get in the way of taking pictures of events since many times photojournalists have to invade peoples privacy in public areas to get the picture that matters.
I believe the utilitarian approach is the best way to be as a photojournalist. You have to understand that you are doing this for a reason, to bring awareness, and your pictures could have a positive impact on someones life even if it came out of a negative picture.