Friday, March 20, 2015

Journalism ethics question -- when a picture is only an illusion

So here's today's journalism ethics question.

The latest edition of USC's Garnet and Black Magazine‚Äč has a big story on a woman who was a teenage mom, but has worked hard to be a college student while caring for her 3-year-old daughter. Very nice story and very inspirational stuff.

And very nice "awwwwww" photos of mom and daughter.

 Except ... At the very end of the story there is this: "*Models portrayed in this spread are not Bourne and her daughter, or an actual mother-daughter pair." (The online version I'm linking to has only one photo -- the print version has several, including a full-page one with reverse type over it that starts the story.)

So what do you think? A couple of people -- not journalists -- I've shown it to have reacted rather strongly and negative.

They feel "taken in." "I'm reading it, enjoying the pictures -- and then it's not them." Would it have made a difference had the mag headed the story with the disclaimer?

 (I've still yet to figure out what the asterisk refers to.)

This is from Chris Rosa, the editor in chief, after I asked him for his thoughts:
"We should have written a disclaimer at the beginning of the post instead of the end. The original photos of the real mother were extremely poor quality and we didn't have time to reschedule with her, so we had to improvise."



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