Experiencing the Pulitzer prize-winning photography exhibit at the Newseum was an incredibly powerful experience for me. It proved how a single shot captured by a photographer can encapsulate the experience of an entire moment in time.
I was especially intrigued by the ethical implications of photographers documenting tragedies such as war, famine, or natural disaster. There were several photographs depicting children in the midst of terrible conditions, and seeing those photos made me wonder what kind of internal moral dilemma the photographer faced after taking said photographs. There was a particularly shocking photo of a young girl in Nigeria, completely malnourished and emaciated, hunched over in the dirt while a vulture stalked her from behind. The plaque near the photograph informed me that the photographer chased the bird away after taking the photograph, but did nothing to help the young girl. Later, the photographer committed suicide, as he was haunted by the images he had seen.
This got me thinking: what kind of responsibility does a a journalist, or a photojournalist, have to tell stories such as the aforementioned photograph? And is it unethical? Personally, I believe that we need to see those images in order to understand the complete scope of human experiences around the globe. However, I also think that those who can help someone have the moral obligation to do so.
Regardless, exploring the Pulitzer photos at the Newseum was a great way to explore and ponder the impact of photojournalism.