Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pete Souza created history during the Obama presidency through a camera lens

Rachel O'Morrow
Extra credit

Just two weeks before Obama began his presidency, photographer Pete Souza was hired. He had previously documented the Reagan presidency during the 1980s and was eager to cover each move Obama made. Black tie dinners, the Bin Laden raid, and visits with wounded soldiers are just a small fraction of the moments Souza captured. Through the camera lens Souza seems to freeze an emotion within a photo that causes the viewer to immerse themselves into history.

                                                 Video from

Ethics played a role in his job

Ethically speaking, Souza was trusted by the Obama administration to be in on some of the most crucial moments of Obama's presidency. For instance, Souza was in on the action when Bin Laden's raid was being monitored. He was trusted to be in the room with the most powerful people in the nation, such as Obama, Hillary Clinton, CIA director, Joe Biden and many more. Within these moments he accurately captures expression on their faces and because of that he is showing the truth to the public. He shows the concern, anxiousness and patience government leaders had in crucial moments of American history.

He asked questions after Bin Laden's capture and death such as, "If we make it public, how are we going to make it public?" and "Are we sure it's Bin Laden?"

This demonstrates Souza's need to inform he public of the truth in the right way and at the right time.

Humanity and ethics

Souza understood that humanity matters. After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting there was a gathering for parents who had lost their children to meet with Obama. Souza's duty was to capture the interactions Obama had with the families and school officials affected by the shooting. During Souza's presentation on Tuesday, he showed the audience a photo of a mother, father, and brother of a boy that was shot and killed. The mother was clearly crying on Obama's shoulder while her other child and husband held onto her.

During this moment in his presentation he shared with us that he could tell by the expression on people's faces if he was crossing a boundary or getting too close and personal. If he felt that he was he would back off and create distance between his camera and the family. Also, Souza reached out to the families he photographed who had lost their children. He asked for their permission to share photos of their family grieving with Obama. Asking for permission from a family demonstrates that Souza didn't want to cause more harm or prolonged their trauma of loosing a child.

Capturing truth

Souza explained his job in simple ways. He explained his job as just simply following Obama around each day. Through his photo collection he showed the audience that he captured Obama's work mode and play mode. This shows us that he was being transparent with his photos and wasn't hiding negative moments during Obama's presidency.

In other words, Souza captured the good and the bad. He captured moments that depict Obama as the family man people said he was. He showed this through photos with his daughters. One in particular was a photo of them playing in the snow in front of the White House.

Lastly, Souza showed the audience a photo from the moment Obama was leaving office and handing his power to the opposite party he represents. This is when he discovered that President Trump would now hold office. The photo shows Obama speaking to a large group of White House officials and it was during a time when Obama had to act as a comforter to upset staff about the election. The photo depicts a 'bad day' in the office, but also the power of people when they come together. 

Are you ethical?

Efemena Efeurhobo

Are you ethical?

Ethics to journalists is pretty much very comparable to someone's dignity. It's something that you need to have so people can respect you. An ethic is a moral principle that governs a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity. Journalists everyday are always faced with the hard decisions of trying to be ethical all the time, but sometimes it's hard.
When a journalist is struggling with making tough calls they can refer to the SPJ code. The SPJ code are a set of guidelines and principles that journalist do their best to abide by for journalistic practices. The SPJ code includes seeking truth and reporting about it, minimizing harm, acting independently, and lastly being accountable.

So what do you do as a journalist? 
Choose the easy path or the hard path? Journalist everyday have to figure out what is best ethically. A decision could be getting more hits on your website or newspaper or trying to be an ethical journalist and doing the right thing.

This is just a general agreed upon way to look at ethics as a journalist, but it can vary between journalists slightly. As a journalist myself I can say that when I am trying to report a story I want to make sure that the story is legitimate first and foremost. I do not want to have a reputation of publishing fake news. Especially in this era where fake news spreads like wildfire and people believe it. Secondly I need to think, is the story I am about to publish going to hurt or offend anyone? If it does I do not want to anger any possible readers. Overall just figuring out what the overall impact will save you as a journalism. Just think of when your mom or dad always told you to not speak if you don't have anything good to say.

What to avoid and be careful with nowadays as a journalist

Major issues journalist face with ethics in today's media is dealing with viral media pictures, verifying stories , and lastly how to report on hate speech. When it comes to issues like these it is important to be careful. You would not want to be discredited as a journalist or discredit the company you work under. Certain things you should go over would be to definitely look into how it could possibly harm the public from the SPJ code. Specifically with hate speech ask yourself is it deliberately trying to cause people harm and if it is you as a journalist are helping spread it. This could be very bad.
Now when it comes to pictures and posting them make sure they are not doctored or altered by photoshop. Doing more research and finding the source of the original picture will help you post real things. This can definitely cause harm to your audience. Ask yourself "what if someones believes this
photo, what would happen if they did?"

If a viewer saw this photo and you published this on your site saying that it was real the audience member could have been potentially making a trip to New York and cancelled it because they think New York is under water.

Lastly just do what feels right, but make sure you ask people around you and check your SPJ code as always to go over everything.

OBAMA: An Intimate Portrait

Olivia Cooper
Extra Credit Speaker: Pete Souza

Photograph by Pete Souza

Pete Souza was the White House Photographer for Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. His presentation "OBAMA: An Intimate Portrait", was a showcase of his amazing photography skills while simultaneously telling beautiful stories behind the pictures. Souza told us personal stories about Obama that made the audience feel like they knew him, and heart-wrenching stories behind some more intense photos that tell stories about America during his presidency and some of the tragedies and hardships our country faced together.

Photojournalism Ethics: Inside the White House 
Souza didn't speak much of ethics in his speech, except that he could take pictures wherever he wanted in the White House, whenever he wanted. Pictures cannot capture government secrets, but Souza did show us a few photos where I questioned his ethics. Souza had a photo of Obama, Biden, some of Obama's assistants, and Hillary Clinton in a conference room holding hands and crying tears of joy during the capture of Osama Bin Laden. Souza talked about how this moment was so private, but that he was allowed to be there because he had no boundaries in the White House. Souza was behind the television that was showing a Navy Seal recording of the capture (footage that has never been released), he was just catching their reactions, so it was technically ethical. In "White House News Photographers Association" by laws a complete ethical code can be found. WHNPA Ethical Code

Photojournalism Ethics: Outside the White House 
At the end of the presentation I stayed to ask a few questions about ethics involved in photography outside of the White House. Souza showed photos of some wounded warriors Obama visited in the hospital and also photos of Obama with families mourning the loss of loved ones in the Colorado shootings in 2015. I asked Souza how he decided when or how to take pictures in touchy situations where people are hurt or upset like in those two photos, and if there was a strict ethical code set by the White House Press Group.
He told me there was a strict ethical code, but a lot of the photos he did not release to the press. He said that judgement changes situation to situation. He flipped back to a picture of a wounded warrior where Obama was standing to the side of the hospital bed and holding hands with what looked like a man, hanging his head praying. Souza explained that he took this photo to have Obama covering most of the man's body because he was mangled and in very critical condition. Photos at hospitals with wounded warriors can be graphic and Souza said he likes to respect the troops while still capturing their stories and the time they spent with Obama.
In contrast, with the family photos after Colorado shootings, Souza explained that he was in the background and was not in family's faces taking photos. He said the only frames he captured from the family's meetings with Obama that day were intimate moments from afar, just hugging and consolations. Photojournalists and journalists had to work together closely during this touchy issue to make sure they were not further hurting the community and family and victims White House Archives: Obama's Remarks on Colorado Shootings.

Overall, OBAMA: An Intimate Portrait was absolutely amazing and Pete Souza is one of the most talented photographers. All of his photos tell stories and he lives by a strong ethical code, always striving to project Obama and the administration in a positive light.

Pointers To Help Journalists Make Ethical Decisions

Gabrielle Albright

This graphic is retrieved from Cox and Forkum Editorial Cartoons.

Humans make ethical decisions every day. (I think my dog does too- but that’s beside the fact). Sometimes these are moments in our day that breeze right by us and we unconsciously make small impactful decisions depending on who we are and our nature of how we typically behave. For instance, a typical member of society wouldn't break in and steal from their neighbor even if they know their garage code.

Sometimes, ethical decisions are a little harder to make and are accompanied with an ample amount of stress and an extra application of deodorant. These are usually the situations where you know you want to do something, but you have this tugging feeling in your gut making you question if it's the right choice. So, what is that tugging feeling? And as a journalist, what do we do with that?

As a journalist, the decisions that we make on and off the clock effect our professional lives and reputations. We always must uphold being trustworthy and unbiased. 

Where Journalists Should Begin Making an Ethical Decision

First and foremost, your personal ethical code matters. You might not even know that you have one, but you do. It’s what you believe is right from wrong- even if it takes you a while to get to the conclusion. This is not to be confused with a personal bias or incline for personal gain. Ultimately, you’re the person that is going to have to live with your decision for the rest of your life.

Secondly- as a journalist- one must consider the ethical guidelines and policies of their publication. This is crucial if you're someone who wants to keep their job. It would be proactive to ensure that your personal ethical code lined up with your employed publication prior to being hired to avoid major disagreements. Even though there are broad ethical journalistic guidelines, every publication has a slightly unique set of ethical codes that all of their journalists must follow.

Professional Examples Of Ethical Codes

The New York Times lists their standards and ethics on their website as employing fairness, integrity, and truth into all of their stories.

The Washington Post aligns their standards with providing the truth for the public good, declaring that they will make sacrifices of material fortunes to maintain this.

Usually, newspapers will also have a plan in place for certain accidents and mistakes that could potentially be made.

Other Variables Journalists Must Consider

Although this is usually included in ethical codes, one must really consider the consequences to all other stakeholders within the story as well- besides you and your publication. For instance- the people in the story.

Ultimately, it all comes back to your personal ethical code. For instance, if your publication is pressuring you to write a story that exposes someone from what they said off the record, you have to be the one that decides what to do. Do you publish this person’s secret for the potential gain in your career? Or do you consider the confidentiality you had with that person and consider the repercussions they will have in their individual lives? The choice is yours.

The Bottom Line

The hard part is that there are a lot of situations that are going to have a lot of grey areas. As an ethically conscious journalist, you have to be aware of all of your options, all of the people and groups that will be affected (including your publication), and your personal potential repercussions.

Admitting You Have a Problem

Maura Anderson

Ethical decision making is a process that transcends the bubble of journalistic integrity. Every person on this Earth will face countless decisions every single day, and those decisions can be as simple as what shirt to wear to class or as complex and vexing as judging a murder trial. Developing a personal code of ethics or following an established list of rules can seem like the best way to combat unethical decisions, but sometimes, decisions must happen more quickly or might seem so insignificant that consulting a code or peer doesn't happen.

We are all multifaceted individuals, and as such, we all have different, perhaps conflicting, loyalties. In the most basic sense, when we make decisions, we usually have to choose between these loyalties. Most allegiances can be broken down into two categories: devotion to self, and responsibility to others. In the following video from Academic Technologies at the University of Texas at El Paso, consider the case of the tribesman who made a life-changing decision.

Here, we see that the choice of individual over community was catastrophic. This brings up the point that typically, if we voice our concern to our peers and ask for their input beforehand, we can make more informed decisions.

Sometimes, people make decisions that seem downright foolish or negligent, but according to the Harvard Business Review, there are three reasons why ethical decision making is often abandoned in the hustle and bustle of daily life.

The first is that we often don't even identify ethical problems when we make decisions. In training exercises, an ethical dilemma is laid out for you, but in real life, you can make and act on a decision before you even realize that it might have negative consequences. This happens because choices are not as cut and dry as we might like them. Every choice we make is one in an endless series, all of which affect each other, no matter how insignificant they seem. Because we face so many decisions, isolating the ethical component of one single decision can be extremely difficult.

Another issue that surrounds ethical decision making is that humans can't help but seek approval. Therefore, we're frequently surrounded by like-minded people who may have the same goals and opinions. In the workplace, coworkers have the same desire to please their superiors or their clients, even if that means no one brings up a conflicting point of view.

Via Pinterest. Courtney Cox as Monica Geller on Friends

Harvard Business Review identifies a third issue in ethical decision making, which is time. We're all busy, and we can be too preoccupied to even notice an ethical conundrum, let alone spend time on it.

Even if we identify a challenge and receive feedback from different viewpoints, we still might not have time to dissect the issue before we're called upon to make the choice. This leads people to fall back on routine, even if routine has not prepared them for such a predicament. While gut instinct can be a helpful tool in identifying ethical dilemmas, it's in the decision making stage that they are typically acted on too quickly. Intuition can overlook an outside perspective that might be more reasonable.

Knowing these issues of ethical decision making can help us combat them. If we admit that we have loyalties and process what our choices mean to each of them, we can better serve ourselves and those we're responsible for. By identifying problems, seeking guidance, and taking the time to digest the dilemmas, our decisions can be much more thought out. 

Ethical Decisions in an Era of Distrust

Olivia Cooper

Photo by Poynter's News University

Journalists today have more pressure than ever to produce ethical and transparent material. With fake news sweeping the nation and giving journalism a bad reputation, it is important for writers to run through an ethical "self-check" before submission. The photo I chose represents the crossroad/ gray area that can exist when in a sticky situation. The two practice case studies we received are great examples where decisions could be split at a newspaper, or a journalist could be in a personal battle of ethics. Here is a quick checklist a journalist can run through when making a hard decision:

"Who am I?"
Journalists need to refer back to their own ethical code and focus on the facts they collected and what facts they hope to collect. Journalists should be worried about reporting with transparency and without bias. All view-points and parties involved should appear throughout the story. Lastly, to protect oneself a journalist needs to ask: "Am I following all company policies, and if I am not what are the consequences?"

"Who Am I Influencing?"
Sensitivity to the public is important in reporting, and especially important when victims are involved. Journalists need to realize the things they say affect themselves, their company, their colleagues, their stakeholders, their community, and potential victims involved depending on the situation. "How would I feel if the roles were reversed and the media reported this?" is an easy way to deal with how to report about victims in crimes.

 BBC "Ethical Guidelines" contains a section that reporters can refer back to when reporting crime and anti-social behaviors. BBC Editorial Guidelines section 8 discusses how Journalists should deal with witnesses and victims of crimes via interview. The article discusses how to ethically report about children and young people, disguising identities, and payments. The first practice case study involves both victims and payments. Crime is a beat that is difficult to cover and takes a journalist with a very strong ethical code, sensitivity to others, and an understanding of company policies.

"How do I React Post-Decision?"
Scenario: you followed your ethical code, you ran through all of your self-check questions, your editor and your team at your newspaper back you 100%. But, you still received a large enough amount of negative feedback for it to be brought to your attention. Recognize that you upset your readers and apologize or admit if there was a mistake made. Honesty and owning up to your mistakes 9/10 helps a situation more than it hurts. Journalists are also humans, and human readers understand that mistakes are made. If a writer is honest and open with readers, "I said this, or I pictured this photograph because this and this, I did not intend to hurt anyone with this decision or cross the line." Readers will most likely sweep it under the rug vs. following an insensitive, unapologetic spokesperson for what is happening in the community.

Risks and Distrust 
Journalists are at risk for cyber-bulling and threats. Whether their decisions are ethical or not, their life is public and reporters are targets in a time of distrust in the media. Colorado Public Radio discussed with young professionals the threat that reporters face in 2017. CPR and NPR Decision Makers held a question and answer session involving ethics and the dangers involved in reporting today. Journalists today need to carefully follow ethical codes, be sensitive to their community's needs, and stay strong in times of threat and criticism.

Modern Media Ethics

Janie Dulaney

Without maybe even realizing it, most people probably have a personal code of ethics, these are the things that guide people through their day to day life, as they navigate through many decisions. Some decisions may be mundane, like whether to hit snooze on the alarm or wake up and start the day, others may be a little more serious. A more serious ethical decision could be deciding a line for yourself in your work or school environment; it would be really easy to look over at the quiz of the student sitting next to me... should I do it? Sometimes you do not even have to think about it, but you are constantly making decisions based on your thoughts, beliefs, and values; right and wrong. But what exactly is right and wrong when you are speaking about the workplace? When there are other people who could be impacted by your decision, is it still your decision at all?

Ethics in Journalism

In 2002, Bob Steele compiled a list of ten questions a journalist can ask to themselves when faced with an ethical decision. He highlights a couple I thought were relevant to topics faced in the modern scope of media ethics. A common question asked nowadays is how involved a journalist should be in the stories that they cover. Is it reasonable for a journalist covering devastating hurricane damage to remain neutral and unbiased? Or can they show humanity by placing them self in the story? Poynter recently discussed the ethical issues that were present in the coverage of Hurricane Katrina, and how things could be different with the coverage of Hurricane Harvey this year.

They spoke to Kathleen Bartzen Culver, who is the assistant professor and James E. Burgess Chair in Journalism Ethics and director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. After Katrina, there was much uproar concerning journalists reporting on unconfirmed rumors, and portraying minorities in a biased light in the storm's aftermath. The issue with Katrina was the magnitude of the hurricane, and the difficulty of getting accurate information in a timely manner- reporters were just running with any news they heard. Culver talked about how they had learned from the missteps while covering Katrina, now with most recent hurricanes like Harvey.  She recognizes the need to ask the correct questions, and questions that will get the factual and relevant information out to the public.

Steele's questions for ethical decisions could come into play here, helping journalists find out the relevant information, including number eight, "what are the possible consequences of my actions? Short term? Long-term?" If a news outlet captions a picture of a black man stating that he is looting but captions a related picture of a white man along the lines of "just looking for some bread" what are the long-term consequences of that?

Culver also spoke about the financial factors that go into covering a major storm like Harvey, and "when the business model of journalism is as fraught as the one we face today, ethics can become difficult because there aren't necessarily enough people on the ground doing the work before we can begin to question whether they're doing it responsibility." This brings up an interesting point about the ethics of a newspaper company, what exactly is the priority as far as sending people into areas affected by natural disasters? Is it worth it? This is something companies must decide as a whole because while it is the responsibility of the media to bring the coverage to the public, they also have to run their business. Where is the line?

Staying Up to Date on Ethics

While Steele's ten questions regarding ethical decisions is a great tool for modern journalists to use, it is important to keep up to date on the latest ethical news and issues. Just as journalists care to stay up to date on the latest breaking news updates from The New York Times, so should they monitor modern media ethics in this changing landscape. A website that could be particularly useful is iMediaEthics, a non-profit website that provides the latest of journalism ethics, including Political Reporting Ethics, and a running tab of apologies and retractions. Reading up about other media outlets stumbles and shortcomings can only help a journalist learn from their mistakes.