All too often, we see violent or graphic images of children in the media. It is upsetting and unfortunate, but in today’s world such awful events are a terrible reality. These devastating events happen everyday, and it is the job of the media to cover it and report on it. However, when recording the lives of children, especially in photographs, what is acceptable and what is not?
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has created the Ethical Journalism Initiative which establishes certain requirements and guidelines when reporting on children.
The Ethical Journalism Initiative says, “Journalists and media organisations shall strive to maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct in reporting children’s affairs.”
A journalist’s first responsibility is to report accurate information. If they are not honest, they lose all credibility and will not be successful.
Their second most important responsibility is to consider their audience when reporting. When talking about children especially, journalists need to focus on how their words and their photographs affect the both the readers and the subjects.
There are certain limitations that must be discussed when publishing photos of children. In Australia, the Government has forbidden the publication of photos of children that would allow them to be identified, according to the AIFS.
While it is nearly impossible to set rules as to what to or not to publish, there are certain guidelines. Every case and photo is different, but journalists must consider how the publication of an image will affect the life of the child and the people around them. If there is potential for danger or a negative response, leave it out.