Ethics and the Role of the Photojournalist

Before I dive into this next post, it is important for me to make clear that Sara Naomi Lewkowicz (the award winning photojournalist from my last blog post on documenting domestic abuse) did in fact react first as a human and only after making sure that the police were on there way did she pick up her camera to document the situation. You can read about the photographs she took and her thought process throughout that time in this interview with Time Magazine here. Lewkowicz’ work has raised a lot of ethical questions, but before berating her I feel that it’s important to look at the full story.

Now, on to an ethical situation that I believe was handled fantastically by photojournalist Al Diaz.


“Years of experience prepared me for that day: Respond as a human being first, a photojournalist second.” -Al Diaz

Thanks to Seth Gitner, one  of my multimedia professors at Syracuse, for bringing this article to my attention. As you have likely seen on the news, a couple of weeks ago this powerful photograph was taken during a rescue attempt on the side of an expressway in Miami to save a baby who had stopped breathing. Miami Herald photojournalist Al Diaz happened to be in the traffic right behind this woman and her infant nephew and had to make a series of quick ethical decisions. In this blog post that Diaz wrote a week after the incident, he explains how his immediate reaction was to react as a caring human being first, doing his best to help in the situation. Diaz was inexperienced with CPR, so he flagged down other cars to help. It was not until the baby began breathing again that Diaz stepped back and picked up his camera.

In his blog post he says, “A still photograph can change the course of history, affect policy, raise awareness and cause leaders to act. And, in this case, maybe it can inspire others to become trained in CPR techniques — and to swiftly offer their assistance to those in dire need. So, I grabbed my camera from my car and began recording what I saw. Little Sebastian de la Cruz stopped breathing for a second time, and his aunt Pamela Rauseo again performed CPR. I captured the Breath of Life in a still photograph. The image has been seen around the world. In response, broadcasters and others discussed the need for people to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) — and how it can save a life. My photograph has raised that awareness.”

Diaz’ full blog post can be found here:


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