Listening to subjects' concerns about news photographs: A grounded ethical inquiry
This study looks at the relationship between photojournalists and their subjects using a bottom-up method of ethical inquiry that I refer to as grounded moral theory. The method is based on philosophical ideals from an ethic of care and methodological notions about building theory from the ground up (Glaser and Strauss, 1967). Grounded moral theory consists of listening to people's real-life concerns, generating recommendations to deal with these concerns, and extrapolating from recommendations and concerns to ethical theory. In-depth interviews with subjects of ordinary news photographs and picture stories revealed that subjects' overriding concerns revolved around two types of understanding: (1) the contextual understanding conveyed in their photographs and picture stories, and (2) the understanding photojournalists showed them while taking those photographs. From subjects' concerns and a list of nine recommendations for ways photojournalists might be able to allay subjects' concerns, I conclude that journalists should consider replacing the sacred tenet of objectivity with the concept of contextual understanding.
0708: Mass media