• Keep an accurate record of all you shoot including time, date, location, circumstances and details of all the parties involved in the event you are covering.
• The research for the story behind the images you are shooting should be well-sourced, supported by strong evidence, examined and tested, clear and unambiguous.
• Don’t just go for the shocking, sad and emotionally charged images; to do so may be exploiting the victims and failing to uncover the cause of the distress.
• Never take what you are told at face value; always check every detail with two independent sources.
• Always be aware that there will be those who will want to set up an event for their own purposes; be wary if you are offered a seemingly amazing photo opportunity.
• Be sure that what you photograph accurately reflects the true situation and is not a distortion of reality; on the other hand, never ignore the one-off that could reveal an aspect of neglect or harm that has so far gone unnoticed.
• You don’t need to have the whole story behind what you see, but you do need to be totally open, honest and transparent about what you know and what you don’t know.
• Never follow the pack; they may be being led and fed by those with ulterior motives. • Build your own trusted contacts so that you are able to distinguish between fact and spin. • Be careful when filming an incident or a subject when you are not culturally familiar with the background and circumstances; what may seem shocking to you may only reflect one element of a complex story.
• Don’t crop or edit beyond what is technically necessary to display the image; you could distort more than the picture – you will know instinctively when you have crossed the line between editing and manipulation.
• Never stage-manage a shoot to hype up the story; your job is to report through images what has actually happened.
• Check this site’s editorial guidelines on accuracy. Don’t just go for the shocking, sad and emotionally charged images; to do so may be exploiting the victims and failing to uncover the cause of the distress. Impartiality
• Be careful when filming topics about which you are passionately concerned; you could lose your objectivity and do more harm than good.
• If you have an interest in covering an event, make that absolutely clear in the text that accompanies your work.
• Aim to offer all sides of the story in context and in a way that enables the audience to reach a reasoned and informed conclusion.
• Your only motivation should be to inform the public debate and shine a light on wrongdoing and abuse.
• Being impartial and objective means not being prejudiced but being fair and balanced; be sure to recognise when you are getting carried away.
• Always rise above your own personal perspective and try to see a story from other points of view; otherwise your work is likely to be one sided and limited in scope value.
• Ensure that you provide a balance of issues and views through your camera lens, that you reflect a wide range of opinions, are prepared to explore conflicting views and that no significant point of view is left out.
• Check this site’s editorial guidelines on impartiality.
Be careful when filming topics about which you are passionately concerned; you could lose your objectivity and do more harm than good. Taste & decency and offence
• Do not be afraid of offending if the information you are covering is in the public interest. • Avoid gratuitous imagery that shocks rather than enhances the understanding of the audience; you are not there to sensationalise or impress.
• Check this site’s editorial guidelines on offence. Do not be afraid of offending if the information you are covering is in the public interest. Privacy and consent
• Respect a person’s privacy, especially the vulnerable; their situation should not be seen as a rung on your career ladder.
• Ensure that those you are filming are aware of how and where the images are going to be used. If they are to be used online as well as in print ensure that those being filmed understand that the images will be searchable forever.
• Check this site’s editorial guidelines on privacy. Respect a person’s privacy, especially the vulnerable; their situation should not be seen as a rung on your career ladder. Integrity
• Never expose someone to ridicule and humiliation; they have to live with the fallout the photograph will bring, whereas you may have moved on to the next story and suffer no consequences.
• Always remember you are working as a video/photo journalist to inform the public debate, not for your own glory or to try to make yourself look good.
• Never expose a subject to danger in order to improve the shot; take what is natural, warts and all.
• Never take payment, promises or favours in return for covering an event in a certain way or submitting a photograph that serves a cause.
• Check this site’s editorial guidelines on integrity. Never expose a subject to danger in order to improve the shot; take what is natural, warts and all.
Accuracy is essential in all journalism A media organisation will be judged on the accuracy and reliability of the journalism it produces. It must be well-sourced, supported by strong evidence, examined and tested, clear and unambiguous. Verified facts must form the basis of all news, not rumour and speculation. Accuracy is essential if journalism is to inform the public debate. We don’t need to have the whole story, but we need to be totally transparent in declaring what we know and what we don’t know. Speed and accuracy Accuracy comes ahead of speed. If you are not sure, hold fire. Being first and wrong is not a
model to aim for. Being right, always reliable and measured is. Those who trust you will be prepared to wait for your version. In fact they might use your coverage to check whether a hastily prepared item by a competitor has any truth in it. Caution is particularly needed if the topic is controversial. In such cases, too much haste can cause lasting damage to your news brand. Most major news providers require: • first-hand sources
• • • •
double-checking of facts validation of material submitted confirmation via two reliable sources corroboration of any claims or allegations made
It is also important to have your own sources. Don’t just chase those used by others. They may not be reliable. Build your own network of trusted contacts and turn to those. Contributors Be cautious about people who are offered up to speak on an issue. They might be being promoted for a reason other than to accurately inform the public debate. You need to take care in order to examine the motives of those offering contributors and those offering to contribute. Don’t take for granted what you read on a third-party website. It might look professional, and it may sound convincing, but that doesn’t mean it is true. If you copy material from an online site you are running a great risk If you copy material from an online site you are running a great risk, especially if you reproduce it word for word. It is fine to research information and check it out yourself, but you must never take as fact information that is published elsewhere. Don’t be fooled by images, videos, audio and reproduced documents. Digital manipulation is rife. In the past, an edit in a filmed interview often had to be covered by what is known as a cut-away shot, which took the eye of the viewer away from the point in the interview that was being edited. Now, with digital manipulation, that is no longer necessary. So don't be taken in by what you see and hear in audio/video footage. It may have been altered. Unless you know the person who created the material, and are absolutely sure they are genuine and honest, remain cautious until you have verified it. Or, if you feel you must refer to it, qualify and qualify again so that your audience is not led to think you are recommending the material as proven fact. When people turn to you they expect you to deliver facts. You can refer to material gathered elsewhere, but always qualify it by saying that this material is from another source, and state that source. It is also worth adding that you have not been able to verify the information given, if that is the case. Keeping notes and records Most reporters, when they start work for the first time, are given a notebook and told to keep it safe and never throw it away. You never know when you may have to refer to your notes as evidence in a legal case. Accurate note-taking is essential. The usual rule is that notes must not only be accurate, they must also be reliable and contemporaneous Accurate note-taking is essential. The usual rule is that notes must not only be accurate, they must also be reliable and contemporaneous. That means that you need to have spoken to reliable sources at the time an incident happened, rather than jot down from memory casual conversations long after the event. The latter is unlikely to stand up in a court of law. You will also need to keep records of the research you carried out in reaching your conclusions. These should all be contained in your notebook, or, in the case of those using
computers, in folders and files. Protecting sources Always keep a track of all bookmarks and email correspondence relating to your stories. However, where anonymity has been requested or where it is essential, make sure that your records do not identify those you have interviewed. You must always make sure that you protect your sources. Great care must be taken when you agree to anonymity and an "off-the-record" briefing, but once you have agreed to it you must honour it Great care must be taken when you agree to anonymity and an "off-the-record" briefing, but once you have agreed to it you must honour it. Remember, you need your anonymous source to agree to you using as much information as possible without identifying them, particularly if they are making serious allegations, so that the audience is not misled and can put some value on what they say. Anonymity also raises some ethical issues about misleading the public. You might agree to any of the following to disguise identity: • using a voice-over
• • • •
using blurred images hiding locations avoiding using real names giving an age range
These are fine as long as you make it clear that you are using such techniques and state clearly why you are using them. However, increasingly, media organisations are found to have misled the public. You must not use any methods that could be seen as a false representation of the truth. When agreeing to anonymity, ensure that the person you are interviewing agrees to you sharing their identity with your senior editor. It will be difficult for you to use the material if those who are in charge of the output are not able to make their own judgement as to the authenticity of the person and the information they are offering. It will also help protect you and your sources in the long run. If you are dealing with an anonymous source who is making serious allegations you will need to decide whether: • the story is of significant public interest
• • • • •
the source is credible and reliable the source is likely to be in a position to offer sound information there are any legal issues anyone’s safety could be at risk a response to the allegations can be found.
If you agree to press ahead with the interview, then you need to make clear to the user/audience/reader the conditions under which the material was gathered. You must never mislead the audience. Reconstruction and archive material If you can get by without staging a reconstruction, try to do so. Reconstructions can confuse the audience. If you do create a reconstruction it needs to be as accurate as possible. So, too, can the use of library material. Always make it clear where the material is from, when the event happened and the circumstances surrounding it. Never use library material to represent a current event without labelling it as such. To neglect to do so would be dishonest Never use library material to represent a current event without labelling it as such. To neglect to do so would be dishonest. Seasons change, people paint their properties, roads get widened and bypassed, street signs
change. Library and archive material doesn’t keep up with such changes. Misleading the audience The concern over misleading the audience extends to some everyday journalistic practices that many in the profession consider to be the norm. These include: • reverse questions added after the interview ends
• noddies and two-shots (where the interviewer or the interviewee gives body-language signals in response to answers given)
• cut-away shots of items used to cover edits • set-up shots of the interviewee and interviewer used to lead into the interview • overlay shots that show the interviewee at work. All these can be fairly innocent editing techniques used to make a long and sometimes boring interview more digestible, however they can also be used to mislead. Be careful how you use them, and do so bearing in mind that the methods you use need to stand up to scrutiny. Third-party material Always make clear that the material is from others. Attribution is essential. Say "according to…" or "it’s being reported by…" and you are covered. However, in contentious issues, you will also be judged on who you turn to However, in contentious issues, you will also be judged on who you turn to, so those sources you use need to be balanced and representative of the widest opinion base in order to protect your credibility. Sourcing such information is part of your commitment to accuracy. Who you go to will build on or damage your integrity. At times you will want to build a report around statistics. Sometimes those statistics are offered to all news outlets via the wires. Even so, it’s worth qualifying. "According to" is useful in these circumstances. Always state that there is a margin of error, particularly with trends. It is conceivable that businesses, political parties and individuals may make important decisions based on what you say. Qualify your comments so that you are less likely to mislead. Admitting mistakes The willingness to admit mistakes is another part of the drive to be accurate. This has become all the more important in the age of online archives, although it has always been the case that mistakes in old newspaper cuttings could be repeated and result in an inaccurate report being circulated again years later. Your news organisation will have a correction strategy. Summary To sum up, your journalism must be: • well-sourced
• supported by strong evidence • examined and tested • clear and unambiguous
What it means to be impartial Being impartial means not being prejudiced towards or against any particular side, and to be fair and balanced. This is a tough one. All journalists have their own views, and yet, to deliver comprehensive and authoritative coverage of news and current affairs, they must rise above their own personal perspective. Only by reflecting the diversity of opinion fairly and accurately can we hope to offer a true picture of what is really happening. This is particularly true with controversial issues.
Impartiality in news Here, particularly, journalists need to be accurate and impartial and keep their own opinions firmly under wraps. Impartiality means: • providing a balance of issues and views.
• reflecting a wide range of opinion. • exploring conflicting views. • ensuring that no significant strand of thought is under-represented. Editorial freedom In terms of editorial freedom, journalists should be free to: • cover any subject if there are good editorial reasons for doing so.
• report on a specific aspect of an issue. • provide an opportunity for a single view to be expressed. • cover stories that might offend part of the audience. In all journalism we need to be prepared to offer a right of reply. In seeking impartiality, we must never assume that academics, journalists and other contributors brought in to provide balance and comment are themselves impartial. Impartiality must be adequate and appropriate. It is not necessary to represent every argument on every occasion or to offer an equal division of time for each view Impartiality must be adequate and appropriate. It is not necessary to represent every argument on every occasion or to offer an equal division of time for each view. Editorial discussions with colleagues will help formulate this policy case by case. A journalist should not struggle alone. Controversial subjects might cover politics, religion, sexual practices, human relationships and financial dealings. In all cases, we must ensure that a wide range of significant views and perspectives is given due weight. Opinion and fact We also need to ensure that opinion is clearly distinguished from fact. We might also need to ensure that all the main views are reflected in our output, even if we find some repulsive. We have a duty to inform the public debate regardless of our own personal points of view and preferences. When our own media organisation becomes the story, perhaps bad financial news, a sacking, a drugs scandal, poor ratings, etc, we need to ensure that we are prepared to report on news affecting us as we would on news affecting others. Sometimes it is not possible to provide balance and impartiality in a single item. It might be that a story is so one-sided that to try to offer balance and impartiality makes a mockery of the report Sometimes it is not possible to provide balance and impartiality in a single item. It might be that a story is so one-sided that to try to offer balance and impartiality makes a mockery of the report. In such cases, we should aim to offer balance within the programme strand or in the next bulletin. Personal views offering one side of a story can often add fresh public understanding of an issue and encourage debate. These can include the views of victims and those who feel that they, or others, have been wronged. Such personal views can be highly partial. In such cases, it is important we make it clear to the audience that the views being expressed offer one side only. Alternative points of view It is our responsibility to find alternative points of view within the same programme strand or within the next bulletin. In all cases we must: • retain a respect for factual accuracy.
• fairly represent opposing points of view except when inappropriate, defamatory or
• provide an opportunity to reply. • ensure that a sufficiently broad range of views and perspectives is included. • ensure that these are broadcast in similar output, measure and time of day. With online debates we need to protect the audience from being led to believe that the views being discussed are endorsed by our media organisation. To do so we must: • not endorse or support any personal views or campaigns
• make a clear distinction between our content and that created by the audience • make clear what resources we are providing. Offending the audience Rigorous, robust and searching journalism will inevitably offend parts of the audience. This is particularly true with global broadcasters who aim to reflect world affairs as they are and in doing so cover all aspects of human experience. Journalists must ensure that the material they use in coverage has a clear editorial purpose. Where that material is likely to offend, there need to be clear warnings of what is coming up. Image courtesy of Eric Peacock and released under Creative Commons When offence silences news However, journalists need to be careful that offence is not used to prevent them from digging for news. Just because someone is offended doesn't mean the topic should not be investigated Just because someone is offended doesn't mean the topic should not be investigated. Television can observe a watershed - this is a time set when children are expected to be in bed and material which is more graphic and possibly shocking and offensive can be broadcast - in some countries that is set at 9pm. Online is different; global news sites are viewed around the world 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Anything that is age-inappropriate should be labelled as such. Violence The vulnerable, especially children, can be upset by the portrayal of violence, whether real or fictional. Such content must be clearly labelled. We must not shirk from telling and showing the full impact of a story where real life violence, or its aftermath, is an integral part However, we must not shirk from telling and showing the full impact of a story where real life violence, or its aftermath, is an integral part. In such cases we need to strike a balance between the demands of accuracy and the dangers of causing distress. Editorial judgement needs to be used in the following cases: • violence in places normally regarded as safe such as the family home, hospitals and schools
• • • • •
unusual or sadistic methods of inflicting pain, injury or death incidents where women and children are the victims violence without showing the effect on the victim or the consequences for the perpetrator sexual violence suicide, attempted suicide or self-harm.
We should never be seen to condone or glamorise violence or antisocial behaviour. Sex Journalists have a responsibility to ensure that all material exploring sexual issues is treated
sensitively and is editorially justified.This could include publishing links to relevant websites or the phone numbers of authoritative helplines, however we need to always be aware of who is running the helplines and whether they are genuine organisations or not. Language Judgements about the use of offensive language must be taken in the tone and context of the programme output. Different words cause different degrees of offence in different parts of the world. Language that causes most offence includes: • sexual swearwords.
• • • •
terms of racist abuse. terms of sexual and sexist abuse or abuse referring to sexuality. pejorative terms relating to illness or disabilities. casual or derogatory use of holy names or religious words and especially in combination with other offensive language.
Religion and politics Some will try to limit freedom of expression, and in turn media freedom, by claiming that an investigation offends their religious beliefs. Here, a clear line needs to be drawn. You can offend what people are (size, race, sexual preference etc), because that is what the person is, but it is harder to justify having caused offence when it relates to what people think (beliefs, political persuasions etc). In all cases, be careful not to be too ready to give up the precious and hard-fought fundementals of media freedom just because it upsets someone's religious or political beliefs. Portrayal A media organisation should aim to reflect the needs, concerns and issues affecting all the people and cultures in its audience. Content may also reflect the prejudice and disadvantage which exist in society but programme makers should not be seen to perpetuate it Content may also reflect the prejudice and disadvantage which exist in society but programme makers should not be seen to perpetuate it. In all cases they should avoid offensive or stereotypical assumptions. People should only be described in terms of their disability, age, or sexual orientation unless this is editorially justified. Alcohol, smoking and drugs It is never editorially justified to encourage, glamorise or condone the use of illegal substances. Journalists need to take particular care when the programme item is likely to be seen by children. We also need to make sure that all the legal and social aspects of the issue are made clear. Suicide and self-harm Suicide, attempted suicide and self-harm should be portrayed with great sensitivity. Care must be taken to avoid describing or showing methods in any great detail. The term "commit suicide" is considered offensive by some people. Some prefer the terms "took his own life" or "killed herself." Again, we need to be careful that the vulnerable, particularly children, are not influenced. Tragic events Coverage of the aftermath of a tragic events such as the anniversaries of rail crashes, bomb blasts or child abductions need considerable sensitivity. We need to balance the news justification with the likely personal suffering of those involved. Children Children and young people need help making sense of the world in which they live. The challenge for journalists and programme makers is to ensure that they inform without leading or corrupting. Output aimed at the young needs to be challenging, educative, enjoyable and interesting. In all cases we must safeguard the welfare of all who contribute to our output.
Weighing privacy against necessity Journalists face a difficult balancing act. They must respect privacy, but they must also be rigorous and robust in their investigation into issues that are in the public interest. This will mean that in some cases it will be necessary for a journalist to carry out an investigation that interferes with someone’s privacy. Such cases could include:
• crime and anti-social behaviour • corruption or injustice • incompetence or neglect The most important rule is that we must treat people fairly and with respect. We must also be clear about our own motives. We must have no personal interest in an investigation that invades a person’s privacy. The only justification is that it is in the public interest and we are genuinely trying to expose wrongdoing. What does privacy cover? Privacy covers anything that a person might reasonably expect to keep from becoming public knowledge. It could include some facts that are known by some, but not by all. There will also be cases where a person in the public eye who is in a public place can expect to have their privacy protected. Cases might be where they are in a clinic or hospital receiving treatment. Submitted material Increasingly, journalists are using UGC (user-generated content). This does not make it right for us to ignore our editorial guidelines. It does raise important editorial issues. For example, if material is in the public domain and everyone is talking about it, yet we ignore it, we might be seen as missing out on an important element of a news story and failing to inform our users. Such situations need careful editorial consideration. So care needs to be taken with submitted material, particularly that taken from CCTV, webcams, video cameras and mobile phones. It’s unlikely that we will be able to verify all contributed material as being genuine. Many respected news organisations stipulate that material has to be verified by two independent sources. This might not be possible with contributed material. In that case, an editorial call needs to be made. Clear labelling is a way round this if we feel the material is justified, but we need to always be careful about displaying material that could compromise editorial values and those of the news organisation we work for. Reliability, trust, honesty, fairness and accuracy are hard-won values and you must protect these. If your audience sees material that leads them to believe that you have moved away from such values, you will lose their trust. Judge and jury A journalist’s job is to report facts and inform the public debate so that people can make educated choices. We are not the judge and jury in what is right and wrong in the communities we serve. Journalists have a right and duty to investigate stories in the public interest but they must not consider themselves to be beyond the law. They must also consider the hurt and damage that their digging may cause. Some feel that an individual's right to privacy is qualified by their behaviour. If a person is considered to be involved in crime or anti-social behaviour, it could be felt that they have waived part of their rights to privacy because it is more likely to be in the public interest to expose their behaviour. This is not for us to decide. This is also a delicate area, particularly in transition and post-conflict countries where what might be termed by some to be anti-social or unlawful behaviour could, in some cases, be seen by others as an important and legitimate protest against unjust regimes. If we are asked to stop recording because of concerns about privacy, we should do so unless it is editorially
justified to continue. At that point we need to be absolutely clear about our reasoning. To keep up with our competition, win more users and sell more papers is not a good enough reason. It must inform the public debate and it must be a fair, accurate and balanced representation of the facts. Even then, the journalist must be sure that they have come to a considered conclusion having weighed all the facts. Obtaining consent There are a number of places where journalists should obtain two forms of consent, one to gather the material and the other to broadcast or publish it. These include hospitals, schools or prisons.Journalists should always seek permission from their seniors to use unattended recording equipment without the knowledge of those being recorded, record telephone conversations originally intended for background information, door-step a potential interviewee without making a prior approach, or broadcast material recorded by others, such as user-generated content (UGC). Secret recording If a journalist intends to make a secret recording, they have to be able to justify the decision on the grounds of there being a clear public interest. It is sometimes justified if it is likely to gather evidence or behaviour that the audience would otherwise not see and hear. Justifications for secret recordings could include: • where there is evidence that there is an intention to commit an offence.
• where an open approach would be unlikely to succeed. • gathering evidence. • consumer, social or scientific research in the public interest. In all cases, the material gathered should be a fair and accurate representation of what has happened. There is also an obligation on the journalist to seek retrospective consent and, in some cases, obscure some identities.Secret recording could include: • the use of hidden cameras and microphones
• • • • • •
long-range audio-video equipment small video cameras mobile phone cameras concealed radio microphones phone calls continuing to record after the interview is over.
If you are intending to carry out secret recording, make sure that your line manager has approved it. Your news organisation will have a procedure. Ensure that you comply. It will probably involve: • senior editorial approval and signed document.
• • • • •
a clear declaration as to why the action is in the public interest. a statement as to how the material is to be used. an accurate log of what has taken place. a log of what is to be broadcast and what will not be broadcast. an honest declaration of any deception that was required to gather the material.
That final point is extremely important. Journalists are increasingly coming under pressure not to use editing or newsgathering techniques that could be seen as misleading. If you intend to use any material gathered secretly in the future - such a review of the year or referring to a story when following up the item - you will probably have to revisit the whole process, but legal advice will need to be taken. You will need to be certain all you propose to do is in the public interest, particularly in: • a private place where the public does not have access
• where people are receiving medical treatment • in cases of grief and extreme stress. It is never justified to go on so-called fishing expeditions where secret recording is carried out on private property in search of crime or anti-social behaviour. Similarly, you should never leave recording equipment on private property with the intention of gaining evidence of serious crime unless you have first got senior editorial sign off and can justify your actions in terms of public interest. Electronic note-taking Many reporters use electronic equipment as part of their note-taking. Some use recorders instead of notebooks, believing it to be a better way of ensuring accuracy in their reporting. It needs to be made clear at all times that such electronic note-taking is for research and not for broadcast. If you find you have stumbled upon a significant newsworthy clip that is clearly in the public interest to broadcast or publish. Door-stepping Sometimes a reporter must be persistent in order to secure an interview. Is it really necessary? What purpose does it serve? What information is likely to be gathered that is not available through other, more conventional, channels. A journalist has a duty to continue to question their own motives and the value of what they are doing.However, if the general public can expect a certain amount of protection from doorstepping, public figures, particularly politicians, fall into a different category. They expect questions being thrown at them without prior arrangement and should expect the answers to be published.If you are convinced the story you are chasing is in the public interest, you might want to door-step because the person involved has failed to respond to repeated interview requests, but don’t forget, they have a right to refuse. You also have the right to tell the public that this person refused an interview. Tag-along scenario A tag-along scenario is when a journalist accompanies officials carrying out their work in order to cover a story that is in the public interest. This could include tagging along as an observer with police, customs, immigration or environmental health officers or other public authorities on operational duties. But you have to be absolutely certain that there is a clear public interest, because this touches on many issues such as privacy, consent and trespass.If you do tag along in an official visit to a private property you must make it clear who you are reporting for and where the material will be used, seek consent from the occupier of the property being raided, and be prepared to leave immediately if consent is refused, unless it has been agreed with your senior editorial figures that there is a clear public interest in the event being covered. Reporting suffering and distress The media’s relationship with the public during times of suffering and distress is unpredictable. There have been many times in my career as a newspaper, radio and TV reporter when I have been sent out to the home of someone who has lost a loved one through criminal activity, an accident or a bombing. In my experience there are three reactions. The first is when you knock at the door and nobody answers, although you can see lights on and hear voices. You know people are in and you know they don’t want to be disturbed. However, you also know that your news editor is expecting an interview and a picture of the person who has died. What do you do? Do you keep knocking until they answer, or give up and head back to the office, respecting their grief and their decision to hide from you? Your news editor will either be totally supportive or will give you a hard time for not getting the interview and picture. You could write a note and put it through the door telling them why you called and why you wanted to talk to them.The second reaction is that they open the door and set the dogs on you or give you a mouthful of abuse.The third is that they invite you in, put the kettle on, make a cup of tea, show you all their family photographs and let you take some away.You never know which reaction you will get. It is important that the reporter is sensitive to the suffering people are going through.
Intruding on private grief can hardly be in the public interest. However, here is the contradiction. The media often get pilloried for covering grief, but people buy newspapers expecting to see pictures of those who have died through tragic circumstances. We can’t win, but we can be professional and ensure that all we do is in the public interest. Graphic material We always need to consider carefully the editorial justification for portraying graphic material of human suffering and distress. There are no circumstances in which it is justified to show executions and very few circumstances in which it is justified to broadcast other scenes in which people are being killed. We should also avoid the gratuitous use of close-ups of faces and serious injuries or other violent material.We must also be global in our news values. If we have editorial rules that state that we don’t publish details of someone who has been killed until the family has been notified, then that rule has to be applied globally. Those in the West who apply such rules to domestic coverage need to ensure that they are consistent when dealing with tragedies in far-flung countries. A family of a dead person, who can clearly be identified, but who is the victim of a killing thousands of miles away, are entitled to the same editorial standards we apply when the incident is on our doorstep. The passage of time is an important factor when it comes to making judgements about the broadcasting of graphic material. In the immediate aftermath of an event the use of more graphic material is normally justified to provide a reasonable illustration of the full horror, although a good script is equally important in conveying the reality of tragedy. However, as the story unfolds it may become more difficult to justify its continued use. When it comes to marking the anniversary of an event or when considering it in a contemporary historical context, it may again be editorially justified to re-use it. We must not add to a person’s suffering and grief. We should not put them under any pressure in order to obtain an interview. We must not harass them with repeated phone calls, emails, text messages or calls at their door, we must not ignore their pleas for us to leave, and we should not follow them if they are trying to avoid/escape us. Graphic scenes of grief are unlikely to offend or distress those victims and relatives who consented to our recording them, but we need to remember that the images could upset or anger members of the audience. It helps if we set out the context for the images people are about to see in order to prepare them and to help prevent any misunderstandings. Funerals Funerals, except in the case of public figures, are usually considered a private affair. We should not attend without the consent of the family. Even in the case of people in the public eye, such as politicians, entertainers and sports personalities, we should also respect a family’s wish to have a private funeral. In such cases there is usually a public event to which the media are invited and often a private event for family only. Revisiting past events Responsible media organisations will frequently return to past events in order to put current events in context. As a result, news producers need to ensure they do all they can to minimise any possible distress to the surviving victims and relatives. This is particularly important when covering suffering and trauma.This also applies even when material being published or broadcast was previously in the public domain. Where possible, surviving victims or the immediate families of the dead people who are to feature in the programme should be notified in advance. Library material All news organisations use library material in news coverage. This will include the reuse of scenes of suffering, distress and trauma. We have a duty to ensure that the repeated use of such material, particularly where it features people who can be identified and are still alive, is editorially justified. We should never use such material to illustrate a general theme. At all times we must be sensitive to the impact such material is likely to have on those who suffered the first time round. Missing people
The media are often called on to help trace people by broadcasting details of missing people which has been provided by relatives and friends. We must not give over our journalism to the control of others. It could be that information the family is keen to release could be embarrassing and distressing. It could be that the information is infringing the missing person’s privacy. We must always take editorial responsibility and consider whether the missing person would want the information published if they are found. We should also respect the fact that not every missing person wishes to be found. Personal information A journalist has a responsibility to be totally open and transparent with people about how they intend to use their personal information. This includes details such as telephone numbers and email addresses. We must never pass these on for others to use without obtaining the owner's consent. Why integrity is important Editorial integrity should be at the heart of all a journalist does. Without integrity your journalism is untrustworthy and suspect. Integrity gives a journalist the authority to investigate issues, shine a light in dark places and to dig where others don't. Image courtesy of Courtney and released under Creative Commons Integrity is essential for informing the public debate with trustworthy, rigorous journalism. In editorial terms it means the following: • to be independent of both state and partisan interests.
• • • •
not to endorse or appear to endorse any organisation, its products, activities or services. not to give undue prominence to commercial products or services. not to unduly promote our own media organisation. to be as rigorous in the coverage of our own media business as we are with other concerns.
Promotional stories Everyday news releases arrive in the newsroom promoting a product or a company, often these are disguised as news items, when clearly they are advertising material. The following rules should apply: • We must retain editorial control of all our output even when dealing with contributed material and not be guided or led by those who submit the material.
• We must select and cover stories for our own independent editorial reasons, and we need to be able to present and defend those reasons.
• We must be on our guard for "spin" from outside bodies and commercial companies. • We must ensure that when a product, service or organisation is named in a news report or factual content it is clearly editorially justified. Product placement A journalist must never include a product or service in sound, vision or print in return for cash, services or any consideration in kind. We must: • ensure that references to trade names, brand names and slogans are clearly editorially justified.
• never use material from advertising campaigns or promotions without revealing the source.
• not linger on brand names or logos and use verbal references sparingly unless there are strong journalistic reasons for repeated references to a brand.
• not accept free or reduced-cost products or services. Free material and gifts It is extremely dangerous for a journalist to take gifts. There will always be a bill to pay at
some future date. The best advice is to say no. A journalist should always pay for their own travel and accommodation costs. There may be some situations where a producer of a lifestyle programme is offered facilities to sample so that they can report on them, in such cases the following rules should apply: • keep accurate departmental records of what has been accepted
• never guarantee that any product or service will be featured • always inform suppliers that they cannot refer to your news organisation in selling their products
• only give on-air, online or in-print credits if clearly editorially justified • never offer suppliers an editorial say in the programme or be given a preview of it. Media trips It is best not to accept expenses-paid trips, unless they are the only way to cover the story such cases might be the first flight of a new airline service. Undue prominence Be careful where a guest on a programme has a particular product to push, such as a book, a CD or a film. It is fine to discuss the editorial issues, but you need to ensure that you are not taken advantage of. Online links When creating links to articles online, make sure that you link to material that adds value and is not simply promoting a product. Lazy links go to home pages, thought-through links explain more about the subject. Ensure balance in your links so that those using your service will be better informed.You must must never include a link to a commercial site in return for cash, services or any other consideration in kind.All links must be editorially justified and should lead to sites which are: • clearly relevant to the content of the page where the link is placed
• normally free to access • normally factually accurate We must never give the impression that we are endorsing a commercial product or service. Conflicts of interest There must never be any suggestion that personal, commercial, business, financial or other interests have influenced your news organisation's editorial decisions. Presenters, reporters, producers, editors, researchers and managers are all affected. The higher someone's level of editorial responsibility, the greater the need to avoid any possible conflicts of interest. Typical conflicts of interest for journalists include: • writing for another news organisation
• • • • • •
public speaking/public appearances media public relations training connections to charities and campaigning organisations political activities hospitality and personal benefits financial and business interests.
Journalists must declare all these to their senior editorial managers if they feel that there is a conflict of interest that could damage the news organisation’s integrity. Social action Journalists should not be seen to campaign about social issues, they should report them. They are free to have their own opinions, but these must not influence their journalistic work. They must remain impartial. This is particularly important where: • social action programmes or campaigns coincide with a government campaign or lobbying initiative.
• the output could be seen to embrace the agenda of a particular campaign group. Charities The same is true with charities. Many are competing. Journalists will, naturally, have their favourites. This must never influence their story choice or story treatment. Again, it is healthy to declare charitable interests at the earliest opportunity. A media organisation will work with charities in a number of ways: • broadcasting/publishing appeals
• mounting fundraising appeals • reflecting the work of charities in the editorial output • as partners in social action or awareness campaigns. However, remember that for every charity doing good there is likely to be another competing in that space. Also, don’t get too close. You may end up covering a story about wrongdoing involving a charity and you need to be free to examine all issues without fear of being compromised. External relationships When entering into an external relationship journalists and producers must ensure that: • editorial impartiality and integrity are not compromised and that they control all editorial output
• the choice of partners is editorially justified and will not bring the media organisation into disrepute
• no money or other services are accepted in exchange for broadcast coverage or publicity • they work with a range of organisations and do not unduly favour one above another • they do not promote or appear to endorse other organisations, products, services, views or opinions. Never Do This There's 3 things that you just don't do as a photojournalist. If you only remember 3 things from this article, let it be this.
• Don't add or remove anything in the photo (fabrication). Neither by re-arranging things in front of the camera nor by changing a photo in post processing.
• Don't stage or re-enact news events such as directing the subjects of a photo. •
Exceptions are portraits and product photos, but caption must not mislead the viewer into believing these photos are spontaneous. Don't use excessive color manipulation, lightening, darkening or blurring of the image in post processing.
Good Practice Instead, there is a set of long-standing good practices that photojournalists should strive to meet. In short, be truthful and respectful! But if you want more detail, these are some of the points that the mentioned sources emphasize:
• Caption only what you have witnessed. Exact, to the point, without speculations. Doublecheck all your facts when writing the who, when, where, what and why.
• The presence of the media can often influence how subjects behave. When the behavior shown is the result of the medias presence, captions must make that clear.
• Seek a diversity of viewpoints and work to show unpopular or unnoticed points of view. • Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy.
• Avoid stereotyping individuals and groups.
• Recognize and work to avoid presenting your own biases in the work. • Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.
• Do not pay sources or subjects or reward them materially for information or participation. • Do not accept gifts, favors or compensation from those who might seek to influence your coverage.
• Do not intentionally sabotage the efforts of other photojournalists. The Gray Zone To some extent, it is a subjective matter how far photojournalists can go in their "interpretation" of events. Some of the "illegal" effects mentioned above can almost be achieved with legal means. For instance, photojournalists shouldn't darken an image in postprocessing to obscure objects in the photo - but at the same time it's considered acceptable to underexpose the photo, zoom in or shoot from an angle so that objects aren't included in the photo! This is why guidelines like these keeps coming up for debate. Some photojournalists are more purists than others and so, there is a gray zone. Decide for yourself, are the following practices acceptable?
• Using extreme lenses such as long telephoto lenses, wide-angle / fish-eye lenses and tilt/shift lenses, effectively distorting the "perspective".
• Correcting lens distortion in post-processing. • Using a shallow depth-of-field, causing foreground and background blur way beyond what our eyes see. • Using flash, thereby creating a light that wasn't there. • Using polarizer filters and other "effect" filters. • Publishers cropping a photo without "permission" from the photographer. • Selective masking / tone mapping in photo editing software. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/2612114 P hotos hop Photoshop is a highly sophisticated image manipulation programme. We use only a tiny part of its potential capability to format our pictures, crop and size them and balance the tone and colour. Materially altering a picture in Photoshop or any other image editing software will lead to dismissal.
Ru le s
• No additions or deletions to the subject matter of the original image. (thus changing the original content and journalistic integrity of an image)
• No excessive lightening, darkening or blurring of the image. (thus misleading the viewer by disguising certain elements of an image)
• No excessive colour manipulation. (thus dramatically changing the original lighting conditions of an image)
G u id e lin e s Only minor Photoshop work should be performed in the field. (Especially from laptops). We require only cropping, sizing and levels with resolution set to 300dpi. Where possible, ask
your regional or global picture desks to perform any required further Photo-shopping on their calibrated hi-resolution screens. This typically entails lightening/darkening, sharpening, removal of dust and basic colour correction. When working under prime conditions, some further minor Photo-shopping (performed within the above rules) is acceptable. This includes basic colour correction, subtle lightening/darkening of zones, sharpening, removal of dust and other minor adjustments that fall within the above rules. Reuters recommendations on the technical settings for these adjustments appear below. The level of Photoshop privileges granted to photographers should be at the discretion of the Chief/Senior Photographers within the above guidelines. All photographers should understand the limitations of their laptop screens and their working environments. Photographers should trust the regional and global pictures desks to carry out the basic functions to prepare their images for the wire. All EiCs and sub editors from regional and the global desks will be trained in the use of Photoshop by qualified Adobe trainers to a standard set by senior pictures staff. The photographer can always make recommendations via the Duty Editor. Ask the desk to lighten the face, darken the left side, lift the shadows etc. Good communication with the desk is essential.
Te ch n ica l Gu id e line s Cloning, Healing or Brush Tools are not to be used. The single exception to this rule is sensor dust removal. The cloning tool will only be used below the 100 pixels radius setting. Unless performed on a well-calibrated screen under good working conditions we strongly recommend photographers to request dust removal by pictures desks. Saturation should not be used. It affects image quality and cannot be judged well on a laptop screen and adds nothing more than what can be achieved in levels. Colour Balance adjustment should be kept to the minimum, especially on laptop screens which tend to have a blue dominance. Levels should only be adjusted to the start points of the histogram graph on both shadows and highlights. Auto Levels should not be used. The Burn Tool in most cases should only used to subtly darken areas that have been overexposed. When the burn tool is used in shadows a visible element of everything that can be seen in the raw file must remain visible. Highlights and Shadows can be toned by using the selective highlights tool, a feather of 2530 and then adjusted in curves. The Lasso Tool should not be used when using a laptop to file pictures. It is essential that great care is taken with this tool to avoid the ‘halo’ effect which is produced when the feathering is too great and the tonal change ‘bleeds over’ into the unselected zone. Likewise, not enough feathering will produce a vivid jagged edge to the lasso area. Typically a feathering setting of between 5 and 20 pixels is used, depending on the size and positioning of the zone. Again we strongly recommend this is handled by desks. The Eye Dropper can be used on a neutral gray area to set colour. But is dependent on the quality of the computer screen to determine if you are in fact seeing a real gray! Sharpening should be set at zero (0) in the camera. Pictures may then be sharpened by 300% at a radius of 0.3, threshold 0, in Photoshop.
No selective area sharpening should be done. Third-party Sharpening Plug-ins are not permitted. Third-party Noise-Reduction Plug-ins should be avoided but are acceptable if Chief Photographers are convinced they are being used properly. Camera Settings, in particular saturation (and Image Styles in the Canon 5D) should be set to “standard” with the exception of in-camera sharpening which should be turned OFF. The Color setting Adobe RGB is the Reuters standard. Multiple-Exposure pictures must be clearly identified in the caption and drawn to the attention of pictures desks before transmission. To Re ca p Allowed:
• • • • • • • •
Cropping Adjustment of Levels to histogram limits Minor colour correction Sharpening at 300%, 0.3, 0 Careful use of lasso tool Subtle use of burn tool Adjustment of highlights and shadows Eye dropper to check/set gray Not Allowed:
• • • • • • • • • • • •
Additions or deletions to image Cloning & Healing tool (except dust) Airbrush, brush, paint Selective area sharpening Excessive lightening/darkening Excessive colour tone change Auto levels Blurring Eraser tool Quick Mask In-camera sharpening In-camera saturation styles The above list is not exhaustive. Global Pictures Desk Deputy Editor Pedja Kujundzic and Kevin Coombs will be available to answer any questions on use of other functions not mentioned above including latest CS2 and upcoming CS3 functions. S e t-ups / S ta gi ng of Pi c tures Reuters photographers, staff and freelance, must not stage or re-enact news events. They may not direct the subjects of their images or add, remove or move objects on a news assignment. Our news photography must depict reality. Any attempt to alter that reality constitutes fabrication and can lead to disciplinary action, including dismissal. Photographers may direct the subjects of portraits, formal interviews and non-news feature images needed to illustrate a story. The caption must not mislead the reader into believing these images are spontaneous.
The presence of the media can often influence how subjects behave. When the behavior shown is the result of the media’s presence, our captions must make that clear. If photographers from outside Reuters orchestrate or set up scenes, it is still a set-up. The best news photography occurs when the presence of the camera is not noticeable. Photographers should be as unobtrusive as possible to avoid influencing events and consider using long lenses. Composite images that show the progression of an event (e.g. lunar eclipse, time lapse) must indicate the technique in their captions. They are never acceptable in a news assignment. Captions must also make clear when a specialty lens (e.g. lens babies, tilt-shift lenses) or a special technique (e.g. soft focus, zooming) has been used to create an image in portraiture or on a features assignment. Handout images from outside sources should be examined carefully for accuracy and news value. Questionable handout images will be reviewed by the Duty Editor in Charge, whose decision is final on whether they are published. Photographers or Editors who pass on handout images must alert the Duty EIC if the image is suspect. Ac c ura c y i n Ca pti ons Just as our news photographs must reflect reality, so too should our captions. They must adhere to the basic Reuters rules of accuracy and freedom from bias and must answer the basic questions of good journalism. Who is in the picture? Where was it taken? When was it taken? What does it show? Why is a subject doing a particular thing? Captions are written in the present tense and should use concise, simple English. They generally consist of a single sentence but a second sentence should be added if additional context or explanation is required. Contentious information, like death tolls in conflict, must be sourced. The caption must explain the circumstances in which a photograph was taken and state the correct date. Captions must not contain assumptions by the photographer about what might have happened, even when a situation seems likely. Explain only what you have witnessed. All other information about an event must be sourced unless you are certain of your information. Captions also should not make assumptions about what a person is thinking e.g. England captain David Beckham ponders his future after his team was knocked out of the World Cup soccer finals ... Stick to what the photo shows and what you know. The Duty Editor-in-Charge will come back to the photographer or the Chief Photographer with questions if the caption does not fully explain the image. For this reason, photographers must remain contactable until their work is published. S e ns i ti ve I ma ge s i n a Control l e d E nvi ronme nt Some of our photographs are taken under controlled conditions in which photographers cannot operate freely. This is particularly true during conflicts and in countries where the media’s movements are restricted. Such photographs must say if the image was taken during an organised or escorted visit unless the photographer was truly free to work independently. The circumstances can usually be indicated in a short, second sentence in the caption. For examples, please see Appendix ‘A’ of the complete Guide to Caption-Writing for Reuters. P hoto O pportuni ti e s Reuters does not stage news photos. Sometimes, subjects may strike an artificial pose, such
as at a product launch, a show business event or a sports victory ceremony or when requested to do so to illustrate a feature. In some circumstances, such as during demonstrations, civil unrest, street celebrations or conflict, the presence of photographers and television crews may prompt subjects to act abnormally. These images should be few and can be clichés. They must be clearly captioned to show the reader that the actions are not spontaneous and to explain the context. There are many ways to describe the situation without saying that the subject “poses” for a photograph, though we should say so when it is clearly the case. See below a selection of examples. For a more complete set, with pictures, please see Appendix ‘F’ of the complete Guide to Caption Writing for Reuters. The Global Pictures Desk will flag any possible issues to the Chief Photographer who carries the responsibility for the file from the region in question. Ca pti on e xa mple s
• An employee of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd shows the media the company’s new 32-
Gigabit NAND flash memory card (top) and chip during a news conference in Seoul September 11, 2006. Samsung said it has developed the world's first 32-Gigabit NAND flash memory devices. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon (SOUTH KOREA) Actress Helen Mirren poses with the Coppa Volpi at the Venice Film Festival September 9, 2006. Mirren won the Best Actress award for her role in director Stephen Frears' movie 'The Queen'. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch (ITALY) A man lies dead in the street May 7 after a NATO daylight air raid near a market over the town of Nis some 200 kilometres south of Belgrade. The Yugoslav army took media to show them damage it said the raid caused to two residential areas and a hospital. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan Nobel Peace prize winner Wangari Maathai hugs a tree for photographers in Nairobi October 9, 2004. Maathai, a Kenyan, became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the first Nobel given to an environmentalist. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti A Mexican soccer fan wearing a traditional sombrero waves his country’s flag at a photographer before a Copa America quarterfinal match against Brazil at Miguel Grau stadium in Piura, July 18, 2004. REUTERS/Henry Romero
• About Photojournalism Photojournalism is the visual documentation of newsworthy events and subjects. Images snapped by photojournalists illustrate what is taking place during an exact moment in time. Nothing speaks louder or captures an audience's attention more than a photo that evokes emotion by telling a story on its own. Take, for example, pictures shot during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Countless photos of people clinging to house rooftops and utility poles were published in the media. Words could not do justice to describe the horrifying events that took place in the hours and days following Katrina's landfall. However, pictures--both still shots and video--spoke volumes for the despair and human suffering that consumed New Orleans in the summer of 2005. Simple Photojournalism Tips Being at the right place at the right time is key when you are looking to capture a money shot. However, you can't leave everything to chance. Photojournalists should practice the following tips to ensure the images they shoot make an impact on viewers: Do Your Research Photojournalist are not just photographers, they are reporters. This means you need to know
the who, what, when, where and why behind each and every shot you take. Never underestimate the power of good research. The more you know about your subject, the better prepared you will be to photograph him or her. Also, it pays to be a proactive photographer. Instead of waiting for the perfect assignment, generate your own projects and submit them to your editor. Be Accurate In order to be a credible photojournalist, you must take accurate photos. Your job is to document an event, not create one. Pictures that are not truthful will ruin your credibility. One of the cardinal rules in photojournalism is to never ever interfere or influence a news event. What's more, you should never ask a subject to re-do something or set-up a shot in a way that is deceptive. Pay Attention to Content While it's important to look for ways to make a picture aesthetically pleasing, you don't want to lose sight of the photo's content. Don't get caught up in the details. A news photo is content driven. Your focus should be on getting the facts straight and making sure the image is accurate. Concentrating on whether a picture is pretty or not shouldn't be at the top of your list of priorities. If you are able to strike a balance between the two, however, you will be ahead of the pack. Lighting Matters Lighting can make or break your photos. As a photojournalist, you should always pay attention to your light source, be it artificial or natural. In addition, it is vital to focus on the angle from which you approach the light, the time of day you shoot a subject, and the way you expose your picture. Each of these elements can have a dramatic effect on your images. Don't Forget Form Photojournalists, especially those assigned to cover wars or natural disasters, face environmental challenges. Don't be distracted by tough conditions. Your photos should not be taken haphazardly. Instead, pay attention to the natural geometry in each picture and apply basis photo techniques, such as the rule of thirds and color saturation. Angles and color can have a tremendous impact on the tone of a photograph. Be Human This photojournalism tip is very important: Human photo subjects shouldn't be viewed as mere objects. They are your fellow man and should be treated as such. While it is important to keep a professional distance, you shouldn't completely disregard a person's feelings and emotions. This is especially critical when you are shooting a tragedy. If you are assigned to cover a horrific event that includes loss of life and you don't know whether a photo you are taking is appropriate, it might pay to snap it and then decide with your editor whether or not to run it later.