Pictures from the web
As I wrote recently there’s been some discussion here of late about the use of personal photos from social networking sites.
Most recently, it came up at an Editorial Policy meeting organised by the BBC department of the same name which sets out guidelines to help BBC staff with tricky editorial issues. They hold monthly sessions, which are open to all BBC staff who work on TV, radio and online. Following each meeting, a newsletter is produced, summarising the outcome of the discussions and this is circulated to staff, and published externally. Here's what was said about pictures from social networking sites.
When should broadcasters re-use personal pictures and video available on the internet? Until relatively recently, pictures of members of the public who became the subject of news stories, particularly tragic events, were only available if supplied by family or friends. Now the growth of social networking and personal websites has made these pictures more readily available to the media. But their re-use can raise a number of legal and ethical issues.
This emerging ethical area was considered at the latest monthly Editorial Policy meeting for staff from throughout the BBC.
The ease of availability of a picture does not remove our responsibility to assess the sensitivities in using it. Simply because material may have been put into the public domain may not always give the media the right to exploit its existence.
The use of a picture by the BBC brings material to a much wider public than a personal website that would only be found with very specific search criteria.
Consideration should be given to the context in which it was originally published including the intended audience, the impact of re-use on those who may be grieving or distressed, and the legal issues of privacy and copyright. In the interests of accuracy, care should also be taken to verify the picture.