Ethics vs. A Good Story 12.10.12

As the semester comes to a roaring end at Imagewest, students are faced with several tests, papers and projects. A story from the New York post reminds us as we leave for Christmas break to always be ethical in all aspects of journalism. In crisis situations, proceed with your moral ethics leading and remember your reputation is everything.

“I would rather not be the story,” Umar Abbasi told USA TODAY. “I would prefer to be the storyteller.” This statement was given to USA Today after Umar Abbasi, a New York Post freelance photographer, snapped a picture of a man seconds away from being killed by a subway train.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012, the New York Post published a debatable front-page cover of a man who was pushed on to the subway track as the train was speeding towards the platform. With the reputation of their publication, this is another story that will destroy their credibility and show their true ethical morals. Instead of helping a man in danger, Abbasi took pictures to provide a good story.

Ethics are the foundation of journalism and provide the public with continuous credibility and trust. A reporter from the Associated Press, Verena Dobnik wrote, “The moral issue among professional photojournalists in such situations is ‘to document or to assist,’ said Kenny Irby, an expert in the ethics of visual journalism at the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based nonprofit journalism school. In this situation it is clear that Abbasi chose to document, but was that a truly ethical decision?

In the journalism world, professionals are faced with ethical issues on a daily basis. It is up to them to decide whether or not they would be happy with a particular story being the front page of a publication. Ultimately, without an ethical reputation who is expected to trust your stories, furthermore, who is expected to hire you? As students enter the work force, be prepared to face decisions that challenge your ethics that will either make you or break you.