Category Archives: Ethics and PJ Practice

Ethics Essay Plan

A photojournalist has to get the picture. Does the end justify the means? Write 2000 words

Essay Checklist:

Case Study

1. Introduction – set out what your essay will cover.
2. Define what you understand by the phrase ‘The Ends Justifies the Means’. Include some quotes from your reading.
3. Introduce the photographer that you have chosen and say why you have chosen them. If you have read anything about their ethical approach include some quotes.
4. Analyse their working practices and photographs within the framework of the ideas you have set out in 2.
5. Form a conclusion about whether the ends justifies the means.


1. Introduction – set out what your essay will cover
2. Define what you understand by the phrase “The End Justifies the Means”. Use theory quotes for this section and the following section…
3. Introduce the theory system that you will use to consider this idea.
4. Analyse the concept of the End Justifies the Means in the light of this theory and apply your ideas to photojournalism. Again use quotes to back up your ideas.
5. Form a conclusion about whether the ends justifies the means.

General Essay Advice

1. Set out your point of view at the beginning and stick to it, do not go off at a tangent.
2. Only one idea per paragraph
3. Keep it simple and straightforward
4. Use Harvard referencing for quotes (see the library website for exact instructions).
5. Include a bibliography and a list of websites you have used for your essay.

The Ends Justify The Means?

In the Classic Utilitarianism (written by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill) Bentham’s best-known claim implies ‘an act is morally right if that act causes the greatest happiness for the greatest number’. In the utilitarian point of view, it can be strongly considered ethical to harm or damage the reputation of someone if it’s beneficial to the wider community. The ends justify the means because the actions taken have succeeded in achieving an end that benefits the majority of people therefore the actions are considered to be ethical.

‘The Means’ = is the process the photojournalist takes in order to get what he/she needs.
‘The Ends’ = is the outcome of the process, which for the photojournalist is the final image that they desire.

In the world of photojournalism, competition is vast so it’s crucial to capture the best shots, even if risks are involved. The photojournalist has to put every effort into getting the right image, it can be debatable as to weather the process one takes to getting this image is ethical or immoral. Photojournalists must do whatever it takes to come out with the picture that they need. This can be done in so many ways, some in which people perceive as been wicked but its what the job is all about. The requirements within this completive field of journalism involve many risks, some of which are life threatening if it involves capturing war images. However, this is what gets you the money, and a colossal sum of that.
The module guide states that I can approach this essay with a case study of a documentary photographers work or as a pure theory essay. For the essay I will be studying the work of photojournalist James Nachtwey, who is considered to be one of the greatest war photographers of the recent decades. James is dedicated to documenting wars, social, critical and conflict issues. After studying some of his images I believe his work can be good examples the type of pictures photojournalists have to get, that show the some of the most shocking and distressing issues. In todays era people don’t really believe what is happening until they see graphical images. Without the ‘pain of seeing’ these tragic truths, people wouldn’t really know the real truth and the harsh reality of this word. It would be based on imagination from what they is read in the newspapers or social media stories.
Studying James Nachtwey and the images he has taken, my case study will be based on war photographs and add theory from my readings into utilitarianism that will show that the images taken could hurt the subjects or people they love but will benefit the general welfare.


Week Nine: The Philosophy Of Ethics Part 2


‘An act is morally right if that act causes the greatest happiness for the greatest number’

An action is judged pragmatically by its effects. The results of an action determine is rightness.

Ethical Egoism

We have the duties to anyone but ourselves

Deontological Ethics

According to deontological (or ‘duty’) ethics it is the nature of the act that decides moral status…deontological ethics invites us to consider the act without pondering it’s consequences.

According to deontological ethics, some types of actions are prohibited, or obligatory, irrespective of their consequences.

The best known representative of deontological ethics is Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804).

The morally important thing is not consequences but what choosers think when they make choices

Only one kind of thing is inherently good and that is good will.

Good Will

• Is not a material thing
• Is our power of rational moral choice
• Its presence gives humans their inherent dignity
• The will is good when it acts out of duty, not out of inclination
• Acting out of inclination: to do something because it makes you feel good or because you hope to gain something from it
• Acting of duty is to act from respect for the moral law. To know moral law, we use the, ‘categorical imperative’

Categorical Imperative

Categorical imperative: a rule stating what ought to be done based upon pure reason alone and not contingent upon sensible desires. ‘I am never to act otherwise than to will that my maxim should become universal law’.

•Before you act, consider the maxim or principle on which you are acting
•Generalise that principle
•Test One: If once generalised it makes no sense because it contradicts itself, then it is wrong to use that maxim as a basis for action
•If necessary perform Test Two (Reversibility) – if the generalised version makes no sense, ask whether you would choose to live in a world where everyone followed it. If not, do not act on that maxim.

Interpretation of Kant’s Categorical Imperative

Even if Kant has not arrived at absolute duties in any impeccable way, he may have hit on a crucial moral truth. He may be right in his insistence that, in addition to a class of less strict, ‘imperfect’ duties (such as the duty to help each other), there exists a class of absolute moral duties (such as the duty never to kill an innocent human being).
Is he right? Are there absolute duties? Are there certain kinds of actions that we can clearly define such that we ought to perform, irrespective of their consequences in the individual case?
– Understanding Ethics: An introduction to moral theory Torbjorn Tannjo 2008

The Means Justifies the Ends

How does this affect the work of Journalists and Photojournalists?
If our ethics are based on our actions what should those actions be in accordance with moral duties?
What actions should we not take?
1. Don’t use people to obtain your goals to seek an edge or unfair advantage
2. People have rights which supersede the tyranny of the majority in utilitarianism
3. How far should respect for persons proceed?

The Aspects of Media Law: Defamation, Privacy and Social Media

Freedom of Speech:

In a free pluralist democracy freedom of expression is paramount to freedom as a whole
Freedom of expression is guaranteed by
Law (Art 10 ECHR & Human Rights Act 1998):

Article 10 part 1: Everyone has the right to freedom of expression: including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority.

Article 10 part 2: The exercise of these freedoms, in subject to such formalities are prescribed by law and are necessarily in democratic society in interest of: National security, public safety, prevention of crime, protection healthily morals, protection of reputation of rights of others, protecting the disclosure of information received in confidence of from maintain the authority.

Defamation – Libel and Slander

Both are defamation. The only real difference is that libel is something, which is permanent and can be seen whereas slander is not recorded permanently and is transient.
Slander cases are less rare than libel because it’s hard to prove the act happened without written or recorded evidence.

Broadcast Images

The defamatory effect of broadcast images is determined as libel by the effect of section 4 of The Theatres Act 1968
Where defamatory material is broadcast by radio or television it is libel by section 166 of The Broadcasting Act 1990


Multigroup Bulgaria Holdings v Oxford Analytica Ltd. (1997)

Classed as permanent even though transient
Therefore libel and not slander
(Deleted email can be recovered and read by others)

Nature of the Tort

Statement made about the claimant that reflects negatively upon the reputation they enjoy.
It must be of a nature that ‘lowers the claimant in the estimation of right thinking members of society’ or ‘which would tend to cause people to shun or avoid’ the claimant or would expose the claimant to ‘hatred ridicule or contempt’
Along with demonstrating that the detrimental statement has been made the claimant must show that the statement has been published.
Broadcast or published simply means disseminated
S.1 Defamation Act 2013 – “serious harm” to reputation

Defamation, weather its libel or slander, is an act that can damage someone’s reputation. This can be done by a story, photograph, video, any social media platform is capable of performing a defamatory act on somebody.
However, the truth is a defence to defamation.

Right Thinking People

The words must be defamatory in the view of right thinking people
Sim v Stretch [1936] 52 TLR 669 “an exclusive group of people who were neither too tolerant or too censorious”
Simply an attempt to identify the average, reasonable person who does not hold extreme views.
Some people are sensitive to opinionated comments and its crucial they don’t come across as facts.

Defamatory Meaning

Words may be in their natural meaning defamatory.
Words like; ‘Thief’, ‘Criminal’, ‘Adulterer’, ‘Racist’, ‘Pedophile’ are all capable of lowering a person in the minds of right thinking people.
Claimant replies on the natural meaning of the words.
Some words are ambiguous.
The meaning of words in common parlance change e.g. Gay
The claimant must show that the words carry a defamatory meaning that refers to the claimant.

The cases of Crow v Johnson (2012) and Lord McAlphine v Bercow (2013):

Crow v Johnson:

The leader of the RMT Union Bob Crow took London mayor Boris Johnson to court relating to issued leaflets of the 2012 London election campaign. However he had failed his libel act case.
In the judgement of the day of the hearing, Mr Justice Tugendat announced that ‘in the context of a hotly contested election” the words could not be held to be defamatory

McAlpine v Bercow

Sally Bercow, the wife of the House of Commons speaker tweeted ‘Why is Lord McAlpine trending?’ was seen libellous in the high court. An innocent emoticon was posted at the end of the question insinuated that Lord McAlpine was guilty of a crine he was wrongly accused of. As a result of Bercow agreed to pay £15,000 in damages for the libel tweet.


Innocent words may be defamatory because of extrinsic facts known to the reader.
X is ‘stepping out with’ Y is innocent on the face of it.
But not if Y is married to or in a long term relationship with Z (Bowman v MGN (2010))

Who can be Sued?

The originator of the statement is liable for his or her own deliberate or negligent publication
Every one repeating the libel (distributors)
Employers may be vicariously liable

All active publishers…
Newspaper proprietor
(But most claimants will sue those who have the most money – newspapers rather than journalists/ editors)

Defences: General

Most defences to defamation have recently been amended and put into statutory form by the Defamation Act 2013 (came into force on Jan 1 2014)


Consent (‘Leave and licence’)
Truth (s.2 DA 2013)
Honest Opinion (s.3 DA 2013)
Publication on matter of public interest (s.4 DA 2013)
Operators of websites (s.5 DA 2013)
Peer-reviewed statement in journals (s.6 DA 2013)
Reports protected by privilege (s.7 DA 2013)
Offer of Amends (plus accord & satisfaction)

No member of parliament can be sued for defamation

Truth (s.2 DA 2013):

It is a defence for the defendant to show that the imputation conveyed by the statement complained of is substantially true
Where there are multiple imputations, the defence still remains as long as imputations not shown to be substantially true do not seriously harm the claimant’s reputation

Truth Examples:

Taylforth v News Group Newspapers (1994) (Evidence of police witness crucial to supporting the allegation of oral sex in a car)
Aitken v Guardian Newspapers (1997) (last minute discovery of factual evidence to support the allegation of breaching ministerial guidelines)
Miller v Associated Newspapers Ltd (2005) (despite errors in its assertions the newspaper was fundamentally correct in its allegation against the claimant

Honest Opinion

Defence applies if 3 conditions are met:
1. It was a statement of opinion (not an imputation of fact)
2. The statement indicated (in general or specific terms) the basis of the opinion
3. An honest person could have held the opinion on the basis of any fact which existed at the time the statement was made (or anything which was asserted to be a fact in a privileged statement)

Publication on a matter of public interest (s.4 DA 2013)

This is a new defence and is based on the common law defence established in the landmark case of Reynolds v Times Newspapers Ltd (1999)
The defence is established if :
1. The statement was on a matter of public interest, and
2. The defendant reasonably believed that publishing the statement was in the public interest

Reynolds: Ten Factors
1. The seriousness of the allegation
2. The nature of the information
3. The source of the information
4. The steps taken to verify
5. The status of the informant
6. The urgency of the matter
7. Whether comment was sought from the claimant
8. Whether the article contained the claimants side of the story
9. The tone of the article
10. The circumstances of the publication

Reynolds: Subsequent cases

Flood v Times Newspapers (2012)
Allegation of corruption made against Sgt. Flood
Court of Appeal denies the defence – inadequate steps taken on verification
Supreme Court upholds the defence – significance of decision
Subsequently Sgt Flood wins 60K damages – Times did not update its story and report that he had been exonerated following investigation. Failure to report this was “a refusal to take a course which was professional, responsible and fair”


S.4(3) DA 2013 puts into statutory form the defence of ‘reportage’ (the neutral reporting of attributed allegations involving the claimant rather than their adoption by the newspaper)
Defendant does not need to have verified the information because the way the report is presented gives a balanced picture
In determining whether it was reasonable for the def to believe publication was in the public interest the court must make such allowance for editorial judgement as it considers appropriate

Offers of Amends:

Defence under Defamation Act 1996. Any party guilty of defamation may make offer of amends where:
Did not know/ have reason to believe words applied to claimant
Did not know that words were defamatory of that person (i.e. a mistake)
Offer must be in writing
Make suitable apology
Publish a correction in a reasonable manner
Pay compensation and costs (as agreed or ordered)


A right to privacy is guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
Article 10 of the ECHR also recognises a right to freedom of expression
Human Rights Act 1998 s.12, – where a journalist is facing an injunction to prevent publication, courts will have regard to freedom of expression & compliance with any relevant privacy code, e.g. Clause 3 Editors’ Code

How does a court decide?

Relevant factors/ requirements:
Does the claimant have a reasonable expectation of privacy?
What were the expectations of any pre-existing relationship?
If it is private, how serious an invasion is it?
Is the information already in the public domain?
What is the claimant’s history of prior revelations?
Are there public interest grounds to warrant the intrusion?

Development of Privacy

Does not technically exist as a separate tort (why did the courts not develop this or parliament legislate for it?)
Has developed out of traditional breach of confidence
Is typically characterised as an action arising from ‘misuse of private information’

Campbell v MGN (2004)
Is ‘misuse of private information’ the same thing as breach of privacy?

Did the claimant have a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to the information disclosed?
Does right to privacy outweigh freedom of expression?
What were the elements of private information in this case? (fact of drug addiction; fact that receiving treatment; receiving treatment at NA; details of NA therapy; photos of her going into/ out of the clinic)
Why were MGN entitled to publish the first two elements but not the remaining three? (public interest)
What is ‘different’ about the three? (note the overlap with Data Protection on the fifth)

Should the law go further?

Mosley v United Kingdom (2012)
What were the issues at stake in this case?
What arguments were advanced by Mosley?
What arguments were advanced by the UK govt.?


How did the ECHR justify its judgment?
Do you think they were right? How much of a ‘chilling effect’ would a pre-notification requirement have on political reporting and investigative journalism?
Is ‘entertainment’ as opposed to education/ information something that deserves the same level of consideration under freedom of expression?

Social Media

General problem is that social media means that we are all now ‘publishers’ and should think carefully about what we say – Facebook, Twitter etc. all pose significant legal risks depending on how they are being used.

The Risks of Social Media:
• Defamation
• Harassment
• Privacy
• Offensuve/Malicious/Menacing communications
• Confidential Information/ Data Protection
• Copyright


[1] Article 10 [Accessed 15th April 2014]

[2] Crow v Johnson case [Accessed 15th April 2014]

[3] McAlpine v Bercow [Accessed 15th April 2014]

Week Eight: The Philosophy Of Ethics

Moral Law and Moral Progress?

‘Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral law is written on the tablets of eternity’
– Lord Action 1895 quoted by Torbjorn Tannsjo Understanding Ethics 2010

Is Moral truth absolute or relative?

‘What from one cultural or temporal perspective is right may from another cultural or temporal perspective be wrong’

-Torbjorn Tannsjo Understanding Ethics 2010

The Origin Of Ethics

First studied as a branch of philosophy beginning in 500-400 BC in Ancient Greece

‘Philo’ means to love, or like ‘sophia’ means wisdom

To Study philosophy requires analysis – it means not accepting something of face value.

The Application of Ethics

To gain knowledge about the correct action, one must take in a principal situation, true or reasonable. Moral principles should be applied.

Deciding on which action to take means:

Accepting a moral principle + Considering the relevant facts
An ethical, practical solution to a problem or question

“A true or reasonable moral principle can explain why we ought to do such and such in a principal situation. Unless we have recourse to a unique principle, or at least a consistent set of principles, we have no explanation at all.”
– Torbjorn Tannsjo Understanding Ethics 2010

Ethical Theories

Virtue Ethics: The basic question in ethics is not what we ought to do but what kind of person we ought to be.
Deontological Ethics: There are duties and prohibitions binding on us all irrespective of the consequences of following them.
The Ethics of Rights: Each moral subject has certain rights that nobody is entitled to violate.
Egoism: We should always act to maximise our own benefit.
Utilitarianism: We should always act to maximise the universal benefit.


Was first written by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

Bentham’s best-known claim implies an act is morally right if that act causes ‘the greatest happiness for the greatest number’

An action is judged pragmatically by its effects. The result of an action determine its rightness.

In the utilitarianism view, it may be considered ethical to harm one person for the benefit of the larger group.

John Stuart Mill

Was a valuational hedonist: pleasure and the absence of pain were the only intrinsic ends.
Argued an act was right in the proportion in which it contributed to the general happiness.
An act was wrong in the proportion in which it contributed to general unhappiness or pain.

The Ends Justify The Means?

Mill acknowledged the same act can make some happy but cause others pain. Both sets of consequences should be valued simultaneously
This belief could be used to reason that journalism might hurt the subject, but further general welfare
In utilitarian theory, no-one’s happiness is more valuable than another’s.
The ends justify the means because the actions taken have succeeded in achieving an end that benefits the majority of people therefore the actions are considered to be ethical.

The photographs below show that the media acted for the greater good from the horrific images of the Vietnam War. Without these images we wouldn’t believe that such terrible things happen in the world. The pictures reveal the truth of what was happening and revealing the deplorable behavior of the American troops. The End Justify The Means because the journalists showed devastating scenes of innocent Vietnamese children fleeing for their lives from the American soldiers. Achieving the end benefits the majority for showing the truth, therefore contributing towards an ethical act.




Below is a video of the American’s soldiers air striking in Iraq. The Americans had thought it was a base camp but thought wrong. The explosion shows horrific scenes of innocent people been killed live. Just like the Vietnam image it is highly important that we see footage like this to get a true understanding of what is taking place in Iraq. It shows us back at home a real insight to the variety of activities that take place during War.


How do we judge the idea of happiness

Does acting for the greater happiness involve impartiality or a lack of empathy?

Is acting for the greater happiness even if some people are hurt too permissive?

Is acting for the greater happiness too demanding for an individual?

Ethical Egoism

In ethical egoism we have no duties to anyone but ourselves.

Every individual ought to maximise his or her own happiness.

If people’s goals are in conflict, each individual ought to maintain his or her own goal.

Does an artist or photographer have a right to work according to their own goals in the system of ethical egoism?

angry child

Diane Arbus photograph of the angry child is a perfect example of egoism in photography. Diane deliberately tested the patience of the child by taking her time to capture the portrait. Diane wanted to photograph people the way she wanted to see them. She wanted the child to look agitated in this photograph and it got her the right outcome.


[1] Vietnam Images [Accessed 15th April 2014]

[2] Angry Child [Accessed 15th April 2014]

How Should The Law Respond To The Growth Of Social Media

The amount of social media users to this very day are at a sky-high, and the numbers are only going to increase further. The growth of your most popular networking sites; Facebook and Twitter triggers awareness for Law Defamation, which is becoming an important issue.
Facebook and Twitter combined have in total a number of ‘46 million’ users, and that’s just in the UK. To begin with these social networking sites were a way of keeping in touch with long lost friends and relatives, who perhaps live across the world, but nowadays people use these sites as a mode of expressing opinions, starting arguments, debates and cyber bullying.
Defamation, is an act that can damage the good reputation of an individual, this can be libel or slander. The only difference is libel is permanent and can be seen, whereas slander is a defamatory act based more on rumours, as a result of this slanderous court cases are not as common to the libel incidents.
It’s crucial for journalists to understand these defamation and privacy laws because journalists have been sued in the past for committing defamatory acts. Celebrities have also been censured for defamation and such accusations are commonly linked with social media, especially Twitter.
Sally Bercow’s tweet about Lord McAlpine was seen libellous in the high court, showing the harsh realities of aspects of the law. It’s simply shown that a person does not even have to explicitly defame someone for it to represent a libel act. Sally tweets ‘Why is Lord McAlpine trending?’ an innocent emoticon was posted beside the tweet insinuating that Lord McAlpine was guilty of a crime he was wrongly accused of.
Defaming somebody over the Internet is risky business, as evident to Sally’s tweet. People using social media platforms to express an opinion on something or someone can become a defamatory act if a person in question takes direct offense which could downgrade there reputation and how they are seen to others.
Photographs of someone can also be a defamatory act and an invasion of privacy, but can be argued if the subject in the image is performing an unethical act. For example nude images of an ex boyfriend posted all over Facebook or photographs taken of celebrities taking drugs. However the image of a celebrity taking drugs shows truth, which is a defence of defamation, therefore one is acting for the greater good, but can be debated as an intrusion of privacy.
The Law should provide some serious sanctions in order to protect the reputation of good innocent people. When registering onto Facebook or Twitter users should also agree to the consequences like a full-time ban from all social networking sites, depending on how bad of an issue a person commits.
I believe comments and pictures posted on social media sites should go through the process of a security check by the networking team if a problem is reported. People who perform libel and slander acts through social media should be given an automatic ban from using all social media sites.

The End Justifies The Means?

In the Classic Utilitarianism (written by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill) Bentham’s best-known claim implies ‘an act is morally right if that act causes the greatest happiness for the greatest number’. In the utilitarian point of view, it can be strongly considered ethical to harm or damage the reputation of someone if it’s beneficial to the wider community. The ends justify the means because the actions taken have succeeded in achieving an end that benefits the majority of people therefore the actions are considered to be ethical.

Historical Value of Photographs of Atrocities Essay

The Challenge
Remembering is an ethical act, has ethical value in and of itself. Memory is, achingly, the only relation we can have with the dead.
Write 200 words stating your view of the historical value of photographs of atrocities and integrate the above quote into your text.

The history of photographs has a valuable impact on the way we see the world to this current date. Without these photographs we wouldn’t have any idea of the atrocities that happen within this planet, the shocking tragedies photographed over time verify what we could never believe to imagine. It would all be based on people’s views from what they believe or have read, which can be disingenuous.
Photography is crucial to documenting disasters, such as Margaret Bourke-White famous image of the harsh realities of the people imprisoned by the American troops in the Buchenwald concentration camp, and not forgetting the iconic 9/11 image of the falling man.
Susan Santag quoted in the publication The Pain Of Others: ‘Remembering is an ethical act, has ethical value in and of itself. Memory is achingly, the only relation we can have with the dead’.
These captivating images of the cruel events astonish us all. This is the most influential function of documentary photography and the great importance it has on news.
The photographer will need to have been in the right place at the right time to capture such a significant moment of a horrific event. All this information combined makes the image a great value to the history of photographs and without this we would deeply rely on memory, which will vary depending on the individual.