Topless Photos of The Duchess of Cambridge! Is this ethical?

The National Press Photographers Association's code of ethics echoes many of the sentiments of the SPJ code and the Associated Press Statement of News Values and Principles. I read the NPPA code to learn if it specifically addresses invasion of privacy. There is nothing that specific, but number four in the code states: "Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see."

Prince William's mother died years ago in a car accident during pursuit by paparazzi. While he is not generally considered a "victim," it is important to note that past events are being repeated. Paparazzi followed Prince William and his wife, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, on vacation. A photographer used a long lens to capture topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge sunbathing outside of her private villa. These photos were then published in tabloid magazines in Europe.

The NPPA Code includes another list of what visual journalist SHOULD do, including the following:
  • Strive to be unobtrusive and humble in dealing with subjects.
  • Respect the integrity of the photographic moment.
  • Strive by example and influence to maintain the spirit and high standards expressed in this code. When confronted with situations in which the proper action is not clear, seek the counsel of those who exhibit the highest standards of the profession. Visual journalists should continuously study their craft and the ethics that guide it
Take a look at the following reenactment of how powerful this sort of lens really is from the Today Show on September 18, 2012. Do you think this it is ethical to take a photo with this sort of technology?

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1 comment:

Chris Harvey said...

Great questions!

While the British media are not bound by U.S. codes of conduct, the questions surrounding invasion of privacy on this episode are key. Unfortunately for the royals, the tabloid press in England have repeatedly shown they have little or no regard for ethical behavior.

Anyone in class believe these photos weren't an invasion of privacy? Weigh in, please!