Submitted by Natasha Ford
The standard of journalism in Barbados continues to plummet. Journalists are the gatekeepers. They decide what is news, how readers will receive that news and when they will receive it.
Journalists and reporters are some of the most powerful people in any society. But with power comes great responsibility. And like most in a position of power, journalists seek to abuse that power by way of manipulation.
Trust is the most important facet of a relationship between a journalist and a reader. Readers depend on them to deliver accurate, fair and timely information for consumption.
But who is to be held accountable for the dissemination of false or biased news? The journalist or the Editor-in-Chief?
The blame must fall squarely on both shoulders.
As a journalist, one must be a truth seeker and be honest in news reporting. The Editor-in-Chief, however, is responsible for the newsroom and all articles that are published.
The morality of a news publication must be questioned when the ethical rules of journalism are being disregarded.
This includes all types of journalism, especially photojournalism.
Readers depend on both the photographer and the reporter to give an accurate account of an event. They depend on the reporter to paint a picture for them, and on the photojournalist to produce a picture worth a thousand words.
Journalists trust readers to believe what they write and readers trust reporters to write about what occurred.That mutual trust can be severed when photojournalists seek to manipulate photos.
This manipulation is known as photo-editing.
Photo-editing is the altering of a picture by cropping, enhancing or otherwise changing the original picture.
There are times when photos may need editing for any number of reasons. But how far a photojournalist is willing to go for that “perfect picture” is the problem.
With so many photo-editing tools, including Adobe photoshop which photojournalists usually gravitate towards, the possibilities are endless.
The subject of ethics versus aesthetics must be brought into question.
The picture above, believed to be captured on 11.02.16 by The Nation’s photojournalist Nigel Browne, appears to be drastically altered resulting in a poor resolution photo.
So is what we now believe to be an accurate depiction of an occurrence (house fire), no longer true?
There is a mysterious element in the photo that appears to be a puddle of water, but one cannot be certain.
The poorly edited photo also features “half of a fireman”.
Was the “half of a fireman” added to the photo or was being removed from the photo?
Was that particular fireman walking ahead of the other two, or was The Nation trying to give readers the impression that he was? Was he even there?!
This photo indicates a blatant disregard of photojournalism ethics, and heads must indeed roll!
If one cannot be certain about the news they receive, how can one trust the media to report the truth?
It is understandable to want to get the news out there before your competitors have a chance to, but at what cost?
Accuracy must never be sacrificed for speed.
The below photo was posted on the Nation’s website. Chances are, a different photo will be used in the tomorrow’s printed edition.
One is then compelled to ask, how much will that photo be manipulated and how many before that.