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Privacy issues in image selection


Image by Ammar Abd Rabbo and released under Creative Commons

Image by Ammar Abd Rabbo and released under Creative Commons

Privacy scenario and question

You are working on the online news desk of a large media organisation. Overnight news breaks of fighting in a foreign land. Raw footage is filed showing dead bodies. Your duty editor takes a screen grab from the video for an image to use at the top of the story. The image shows a dead man lying in the street. He is wearing a bright blue and red shirt. You can see his face. The picture is dramatic but also shocking. Do you:

a) use the image as a strong illustration of the story, the killings and the suffering taking place on the street.

b) try to find another image that is less graphic and doesn't show the man's face.

c) edit out his features using a photo editor and publish.

You might want to read our training module Privacy, what it means for journalists before answering this question and then check your response against our suggested answer.

David BrewerThe author of this piece, David Brewer, is a journalist and media strategy consultant who set up and runs Media Helping Media. He delivers journalism training and media consultancy services worldwide via Media Ideas. He also runs a media mentoring service.

This site has been given permission to use and adapt elements of the BBC's Editorial Guidelines in these short editorial ethics modules. They have been updated to reflect changing international, regional and cultural variations.



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