First Amendment for Photojournalists
"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." - First Amendment, Constitution of the United States of America
The press holds a history in the United States of America that no other nation has ever had. The freedom to publish information regarding not only the common people, but also the government that runs the nation is something that has not and still is not the case for many countries around the globe.
Photojournalists have a special niche for their line of work. They seek to provide the visual representation of the event rather than providing the reader with text only. While both have their strengths and goals, they both act as elements of the press, and then observe privileges for their job.
With this week’s post, the perspective of photojournalism will be the center of attention. As stated before, this realm of journalism focuses on capturing the image of the event to tell a story to the reader. Or technically viewer in this case? Regardless, photography is a form of media that many often disregard in the building of a story.
Many know the struggles reporters often face when trying to get an interview with a politician, or getting a necessary quote to finish a story for tomorrow’s edition. The photos that are integrated into almost all stories in modern news reporting do not come with ease all the time. As talked about in the class lecture, camera equipment is not exactly inconspicuous. Depending on the event it could require two, maybe three cameras, a wide array of lenses, film rolls if not using a DSLR, along with other accessories for capturing the needed shot.
One of the benefits of reporting is that it requires less equipment and is more about conversing with the sources. Photojournalists need their cameras to capture the shots which can be difficult in events. They often have to find their way around to the right angle, take multiple shots to capture the correct exposure, ISO and composition. The freedom to move around and have the ability to get these photos is a boon that not all nations have for their media. The freedom to obtain these photos and publish them is a boon from the First Amendment. It would be devastating for a photojournalist to lose their camera to law enforcement while covering an event, while also risking being arrested for doing their job.
Thankfully it is illegal for this to occur and there are organizations that will fight to protect them should this occur. While it may be illegal, it still does occur more frequently than people would presume. Often journalists are pushed back from events unfolding and have their cameras forcibly taken. By the time they are able to retrieve them from law enforcement they have either been wiped or the evidence is unretrievable.
Photojournalists provide a wonderful addition to traditional media by giving the reader the image for the story. Without them, it would be up to the reader to concoct the image which could limit the engagement. With the first amendment, it makes it possible for them to bring these images to the readers who wish to know what occurred.