interventions



As protests grew nationwide, an ethics debate emerged among journalism practitioners about documenting protests and the potential for unintended harm towards demonstrators. So we decided to craft a statement and provide a list of resources to provide context and consideration.  

- Images from protests can be used by police for surveillance, to further incriminate Black bodies, and increase the risk of criminalization and police brutality. Consider your responsibility and minimize harm through sensitive and careful storytelling.
- You cannot put the lives of people you document in danger under the guise of objective journalism.
- Sousveillance vs. surveillance: Is your work holding oppressors accountable or adding to a history of violence and surveillance of BIPOC bodies?
- Photography has been historically used to justify violence against Black communities. There’s a desensitization toward images of Black suffering while white bodies are photographed with dignity, subtlety and nuance.
- It is still possible and necessary to tell truthful, honest stories without feigning neutrality.
- You can protect people’s identities while maintaining journalistic fairness and accuracy.
- Legality doesn’t equal morality or freedom from consequence.
- Think about how prioritizing your right to photograph over concerns of life and death is a manifestation of privilege that borders on narcissism.
- Who gets to decide what bias and objectivity mean in this industry?
- If you are an assigning editor, hire local photographers instead of parachuting photographers from outside the community.
- There are creative ways to deliver a full, accurate story while protecting the safety of the people you photograph.
- Prepare a safety plan for yourself while reporting.
It came to our attention, as organizations previously affiliated with the Flash Forward competition jurying process, that Toronto-Dominion (TD) Bank — connected to the Dakota Access Pipeline project as part of a lending syndicate — is a major funder of The Magenta Foundation. This is disappointing because of the pain and violence Indigenous communities were subjected to as a result of the pipeline project, which was made possible by the support of lending banks. We want to use this letter to address our concerns about this partnership and to offer potential solutions. We think The Magenta Foundation can do better as an industry leader and set an example for other photo organizations.



Representation of people of color and women behind the camera to be abysmal, despite decades of calls to make photography more equitable and inclusive. We offer actionable steps camera companies and photo organizations can take toward equity.

“Whereas individual photographers will likely continue to subscribe to these incredibly harmful ways of depicting marginalized people and places, it is your responsibility as the powerful and monied organizations to change the narrative, to lead by example and to fund and support people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives who value holistic, complex storytelling. For our fellow image makers: we ask that you educate yourself about the visual histories of colonization and anti-black imagery and challenge yourself to actively help correct the narrative. If you aren’t part of the solution, you are completely part of the problem.”




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︎ AUTHORITY COLLECTIVE 2020