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Photo Ethics

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Students understand why ethical photojournalism is important and can apply the guiding principles of the photojournalists’ code of ethics.

This unit introduces students to the power of photography and the principles that guide photojournalists in capturing images of the news as it happens. It includes pre- and post-visit activities designed to bracket the Photo Ethics EDClass, plus a class-specific gallery guide. (They can also be done independent of a visit). Through these experiences, students will become more critical consumers of visual information as they come to understand why ethical photojournalism is important; how photojournalists attempt to be accurate, fair and clear; and what happens when they fail to live up to these standards.

OBJECTIVE: Students understand why ethical photojournalism is important and can apply the guiding principles of the photojournalists’ code of ethics.

TARGET AUDIENCE: Middle and high school

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Overview PDF DOC
Worksheets PDF DOC
Extensions PDF DOC
Full Packet PDF DOC

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  • What is photojournalism, and why is it important?
  • What are ethics? What ethical principles guide photojournalists as they work?
  • What do photojournalistic fairness, accuracy and clarity look like?
  • Why do photojournalists sometimes fail to produce ethical work? What are the effects when this happens?
+ More


  • Media literacy
  • The role of the free press in our daily lives
  • Photojournalism ethics
  • Ethical debate and decision-making
+ More


  1. Before Your Visit
    • Photojournalism Vocabulary: This activity explores common words that apply to photographs or photographic standards.
  2. During Your Visit
    • NewseumED Class – Photo Ethics: This lesson covers the power of photographs and the responsibilities of a photojournalist to be accurate, fair and clear. Real-life case studies help students tackle the decision-making process in deciding what’s the right thing to do.
    • Photo Ethics Gallery Guide: Students visit the Pulitzer Prize Gallery in the Newseum and evaluate an image for subject clarity, historical significance and adherence to ethical standards.
  3. After Your Visit
    • Photojournalists’ Code of Ethics: Students apply the standards of ethical photojournalism to evaluate examples from current news reports.
+ More

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