Guest blogger: WSU pj student on the First Amendment, utilitarianism
By Megan Kusulas
Wayne State University photojournalism student
The First Amendment states, “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.”
As a college student majoring in journalism, freedom of the press directly effects my career because it allows me to freely pass on information to the society while being protected.
Freedom of the press does not only influence how we write, but it also influences the photos we take.
Megan Kusulas: Recipient of this week's Golden Camera
As a college student, this is important to me because the First Amendment allows me to take photos of the university or about the university to highlight the truth of campus events.
It allows student and professional photojournalists to document and share information with the public without being persecuted. For example, it protects against being thrown into jail if photographers do not give up sources, reveal information about the government or shoot controversial pictures. There is a sense of pride when it comes to delivering the truth to citizens, which the First Amendment allows. As an aspiring photojournalist, I am lucky to live in a country that does not have strict laws on the press, but also follows ethical standards, which are very important to this industry because they create a reliable source of information.
While the United States has laws to protect the press, there are no laws to protect photojournalists from ethical issues. As a visual journalist, it is important to know how far is appropriate to go, in order to get a good shot. There are three ethical decision-making foundations: utilitarian, absolutist and the Golden Rule. Utilitarian approach is sharing photos whether they are good or bad, to better society. Absolutist is the idea that everyone has the right to their own privacy. The Golden Rule is putting yourself in the subjects shoes and deciding if you would want the photo published.
Of the three ethical decision-making foundations, utilitarian relates to me most. I have a strong desire to spread the word about important issues in order to inform society.
I think utilitarian is the best way to approach photojournalism because it spreads importance of the issue at hand. By this, I mean printing a photo of a tragic car crash if it would change the way viewers think, therefor, helping to prevent car crashes.
With this power of the media, I feel I have an obligation to the public to take photos of important moments. I feel it's my duty as a journalist to share information that it is critical to help society. Truth is a very important component of photojournalism, which is why the utilitarian approach to shooting photos is justifiable. I want to use my photography skills to document emotion in a story, which could change the way readers feel about a certain topic. The utilitarian approach to photojournalism is a strong way to evoke the emotions of readers and leave more of an impact. Overall, the First Amendment and ethical standards are guidelines that bring society accurate news. As a collegiate photojournalist, I am excited to join the field because I can influence society for the good with photos I take.