First Amendment Essay
"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."
To me, the First Amendment means that as long as I am being truthful in the things I report and the photos that I take, I have the right to distribute the facts and present reality to the general public without fear of legal hostility, punitive action and unlawful censorship. Regardless of what might come out of the mouth of our current president regarding press rights and libel laws and what he believes he should be able to do to people who present facts through both writing and pictures, a foundation in truth protects journalists.
The First Amendment says to me that it will protect me, for example, if I take an unflattering picture of a government official or capture something that needs to be seen. But it also serves as a warning to me, that it will protect me if and only if I am in the right, not the wrong. If I edit a photo, grievously or not, so that it appears to be something different than what I shot just to get a spot on the front page, and I get caught, I am not protected.
As a photojournalist, I think that the laws regarding truth and ethics are even more important than for print journalists. We don't use words. Our stories are told through images. If anything is wrong with that image, then the entire "story" is rendered false and the public can't trust what's in front of their own eyes. We are photographers, not magicians, and not graphic artists. Our job isn't to make things pretty, it's to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
The NPAA Code of Ethics states that "Visual journalists operate as trustees of the public. Our primary role is to report visually on the significant events and varied viewpoints in our common world. Our primary goal is the faithful and comprehensive depiction of the subject at hand. As visual journalists, we have the responsibility to document society and to preserve its history through images" (NPAA, https://nppa.org/code-ethics).
I think that this quote best exemplifies the points I explained above. In terms of which foundation of ethical decision making referenced in our textbook, I ascribe most closely to the Golden Rule school of ethics, in which you treat subjects and stories the way you would wish to be treated. I want to be truthful and informative, but not cruel and callously unnecessary. I don't want to cause harm to the common person as I work to spread the truth.