Originally created 09/06/97

This is photojournalism?

The subject of the week continues to be those confounded paparazzi -- photographers who cross the bounds of ethics and decency.

Paparazzi have gotten more militant in recent years, and celebrity photographs have become more valuable because the competition from the tabloid press to buy the photos has become more intense.

But, as we pointed out in this space in the aftermath of Princess Diana's death, most professional photojournalists try to tell the human story by uncovering truth rather than stalking it -- or making it up.

Photographs can be doctored, especially in an age of computers. But what's especially appalling to see, in our own locale, is the current issue of a weekly publication featuring a fake, front-page photo of a "homeless person" supposedly slumped in a chair in the Augusta-Richmond County Library. The publisher sheepishly confirms it is staged; the "homeless person" is really one of his "reporters"!

Professional photojournalists are especially sensitive today, the day of Princess Diana's funeral. Their professional societies and their codes of ethics specifically prohibit photo staging or doctoring. Everyone who advertises in, or purchases, such tabloids bear some responsibility for their distortions and lies.


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