Their Respective Realm: Ethics and Morals

by davidamelotti

“It is important here to distinguish between ethics, a rational process founded on certain agreed-on principles, and morals, which are in the realm of religion.” –  Excerpt from Media Ethics: Issues and Cases

The conversation erupted last Wednesday with Professor Oldham presenting the topic discussion regarding the difference, if any, between ethics and morals. Having read the material prior to class, I was comforted that I shared some of the viewpoints found within the first chapter. Among the various perspectives shared, the few lines that left a lasting impression on me was the quote I placed at the beginning of this post.

As the class discussion would progress, we would evaluate the photography of Stanley Forman who is notorious for taking a photograph of a young mother and her child falling from a broken fire escape. I saw the photo initially and thought nothing of it as it was just a still moment in time. Then the class learned the outcome, the mother died with the child surviving. We saw the other photos in the portfolio and saw the horror scene develop before our eyes. They were 3 inches of being saved as a shot depicted the firefighter reaching out towards the ladder.

Should that photo have been used in newspapers covering the story?

I think, yes. The emotional impact it had on me massive, especially after learning the entire story. A concern is how far one must go to prove a point. Why should we conceal the tragedies of one family to save our families the pain of such visuals? The bluntness is effective and rather that method may be crude or not, this referenced photo of the mother and her child falling truly does say 10,000 words.