First Amendment as a Collegiate Photojournalist

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first amendment grants us our most important rights. It’s these rights that empower the people of this country to take ownership of our thoughts and our words, and enables us to share them with others without consequence. Freedom of press may be the most important right of all, it allows journalists to be the watch dogs for the people and shine light on the ills/corruption that may be occurring without the worry of persecution. Journalism acts as a the eyes and ears of the people, and it is after all the people who have the power in this nation. The people rely on journalists to keep them up to date on what’s going on, and without the rights established in the first amendment journalists would not be able to do that. As a collegiate photojournalism student, the first amendment makes it possible for me to do as I please without harassment from any branch of the government, as my instructor Lori King would say it allows me to “Keep it real”.
The three foundations of ethical decision-making are the utilitarian view, the absolutist view, and the golden rule view. The utilitarian view states that if it does more good than harm that the picture should published, for example if publishing the picture will save lives by informing people of a dangerous situation then it is okay to publish it even if it invades someone’s privacy. The absolutist view maintains that there are certain principles that are fixed and cannot be broken under any circumstances, which would ignore the utilitarian perspective that certains things are okay if they do more good than harm. The golden rule view is based on the principle of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This rule means that you would use your best judgement as a person not a journalist to determine if publishing a picture is okay. I think as photojournalists we have to take the utilitarian view, this excludes special circumstances of course, but if a picture of a horrible accident saves other lives because they are aware that they should be more careful then that benefit of lives should always outweigh someone’s privacy.

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