Teaching Notes

You must become the flame on the candle. - Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Photojournalism on the Ropes?

Please follow the link below. Read the article. By 8 p.m., Sunday, April 4, please explain why or why not the development the article describes furthers or hampers media ethics.



Alana Davis said...

I've heard this problem before from a lot of my friends. A few are struggling photojournalists that are trying to get by on one or two assignments for a local paper or wedding shoot.

As for if the article hampers or furthers ethics, I think it does both, actually. On the one side, it can further media ethics because this is an arising topic that was not as prominent 5-10 years ago as it is today. This creates a whole other discussion on the ethics of professional photographers over amateur, how will amateurs know what is ethical and how to stay unbiased, for example. It furthers the discussion with media ethics, but I'm not convinced it keeps ethics simple.

This development definitely hampers ethics because, as said in the article, is it ethical to simply use a stock image when not absolutely necessary? It hampers creativity in a newsroom and promotes laziness and lack of originality, in my opinion. The whole development described is due to the "need it now" craze in the world of media. The pictures are needed instantly and, like the article described, publishers don't like to wait. But the process of having a photographer on the scene and getting your own original shots seems to me like it would lend your publication more credibility. How many times has a big news story broke and every newspaper or news site has the same picture up? Sure, it may be an emotionally impacting or strong photo, but we get conditioned to one shot, how can we get a full view without others? This also adds to the narrowmindedness a lot of readers have when it comes to one specific photo. They make assumptions based on that one shot and are not allowed any other views because no one bothered to send another photographer out to capture the whole event. Wouldn't this invade the "seek the truth and report it" rule in the SPJ code of ethics? I sure think so.

I do think it's true that the invasion of amateurs has both lowered the standards and also given many opportunities that would have never been given before. But like I said before, I don't think this whole development is necessarily a bad thing. I still think we as a society are in the early stages of this huge development and we need to figure out how to handle it through discussion and ethics.

Kim Dubin said...

In my opinion this article was interesting because it sheds light on a hobby and profession. This article describes media ethics in a way from an amateurs point of view.

Many amateur photographers don't know the photography rules like mentioned in the article, which gives them a weakness to the professionals. But I think that with the creativity of someone who has a raw talent and enjoys what they do it should be looked at as a good thing rather than bad. My friend is also trying to come into the photography world, and although she is not taking classes for it like Ms Pruit in the article,she has a passion for it and those are the pictures everyone tends to love. So perhaps they don't know the rules or ethics behind it, but they are doing what they love to do.

The fact that hampers media ethics is when the article mentions the upcoming of digital photography and how it is taken away from traditional photography. Yes it is true that digital photography takes away the extra time and devotion that the traditional way had, but it is more convenient. It is convenient for the photographer who can simply delete a picture if something did not turn out right, instead of developing a roll of film just to find that they missed the moment, or captured it wrong. It is also convenient for the newspaper who needs the picture fast to illustrate the story. Since it relies heavy on deadlines, it is important to be ethical with the picture taking and make sure the image is captured correctly.

Kim Plummer said...

When I thought about this at first, being an amateur, but avid photographer myself, I was a little torn. At first, I wanted to believe that amateur involvement in stock photography wasn’t really that unethical. I thought it was an opportunity for these people to be showcased in some small way, but as newspapers increasingly rely on stock images, it lowers the quality of what photojournalism is supposed to be in the first place.

Photojournalism isn’t supposed to mean going to some image warehouse and typing in the search bar what you wanted your art to look like. It’s supposed to be unique coverage of an event that gives new insight that text might not be able to capture or it’s supposed to capture a facet of someone’s personality who’s profiled in some feature story. It’s supposed to have a deeper significance than some generic photo someone else might have already run.

Unfortunately, this has become a common trend recently—trading the expensive work of professionals for the cheaper payoff of amateurs. There was an SNL skit recently where they were making fun of CNN’s The Situation Room, and the guy playing Wolf Blitzer says, “Send us your photos. Send us your updates. In other words, do our jobs for us.” ( http://www.hulu.com/watch/132877/saturday-night-live-cnn-report )

Yesterday, we were talking about a sort of breaking point when it comes to privacy, when do we say enough is enough. And I think that sort of outlook applies here. We do it with our news, relying on blogs and infotainment. We do it with our video viewing, with YouTube and the like. And we’re doing it with photojournalism now. It reminds me of the day in class we discussed the three traits of classic professions: restricted admission, a specialized body of knowledge and an enforceable code of ethics. There used to be restrictions that kept people out of photojournalism because print photography is an expensive hobby if you want it to look professional, but digital photography has eliminated that restriction. Digital photography has also reduced any sort of specialized body of knowledge because people just click, click and click, maybe taking 40 or more pictures to take one good shot, but a professional could probably get the shot in three or four takes… but no one really cares about that. It seems all anyone cares about, according to this article, is saving money and what so and so wore to the Oscars.

So, I guess to summarize really quick, I feel that it’s hampering media ethics because it’s further eroding any concept of what it is to be a professional reporter, whether that means capturing a story through print or photography.

Meg said...
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Meg said...

I found this article to be really interesting for me because I have never really thought about where to draw the line between someone doing amateur photography and someone being a photojournalist. In terms of dealing with media ethics however, I can see both sides of the story. For one, amateur photographers are simply doing what they love to do, but as a hobby. For photojournalists, this is their profession and how they earn a living so if amateur photographers are taking away their career. This wouldn't happen with professions such as a doctor or a lawyer. There aren't cases where hospitals let "amateur" doctors come in and perform surgeries because it's cheaper. So are photojournalists just unlucky because they chose a profession that "other people can do as a hobby". Perhaps. The fact that these photojournalists spent so much time preparing for their career, whether it was in school and taking classes, or going on out fieldwork, has to be very frustrating for them to know that some amateur could be sneaking up and stealing their paycheck. However on the other side, the economy has been rough lately so those who do dabble in amateur photography and are being offered even little amounts for their pictures, are going to act upon it.

It's really funny because I know a few photography majors and the question they always get asked is "what can you do with a degree in that though". I've even been faced with that myself. In high school I was able to take a few photography classes where we learned a lot of the basics, how to shoot, develop, etc. I would have loved to continue in college, however I was uneasy of what I could actually become with a degree in photography and didn't think I had enough commitment to turn it into a career. What digital photography has brought to the scene is very bitter sweet I think. Yes it has made it so much easier to get the pictures you want in a little amount of time, but I feel like it's taken a little bit of the spark away that photography used to have. Yes it's more convenient for the magazines and journalists to get the pictures right away from a digital camera as opposed to waiting for a roll of film to be developed (and seeing if you even have a good shot). I myself am still torn about this issue because I love to take pictures, however, like Kim said, I feel like the fact that so many more publishers are just relying on stock photography is just taking away from the quality of photojournalism we once knew. Perhaps that's the way we are moving though. As I was reading this article another issue that came to mind was the fact that more and more magazines and newspapers are being accessed online instead of through print. So what happens then? I think it's becoming more and more likely that digital photography will slowly takeover just because we are becoming a more digitally focused society.

Chelsea LaDue said...

This question had been brought up numerous times in a few of my journalism classes; the question of whether amateur work is helping or harming the media. I think it's great that amateurs have an outlet to share their pictures through sites like Flickr, but I also agree with the others who have posted, when they say it's just not the same when the picture wasn't from the actual event. When you look at a picture in a magazine or newspaper article, you automatically assume it is of something or someone you are reading about. Even if it's a picture of a flower, I assume that flower comes from the field or bushes where the article took place. I understand that it's cheaper this way, but it's almost like lying, which as we all know by now, is unethical.

I also think by taking photos from amateurs is like taking the news from bloggers and saying it's real. By amateurs, I assume the article means people who have never taken a photography class in their life. People who just take a camera outside, snap a photo, and call it art. This is like giving a person who has never taking a journalism class in their life a notebook and paper and telling them to go to an event, interview people, and then write an article about it. I would say there is something wrong with that.

MBachmann said...

This article was very interesting because I was unaware of this problem occurring. I agree that it makes sense for companies to use amatuer photos because it is a lot cheeper and in this economy people are cutting back on all costs. Although, it is then up to the publisher and the company to decide what is ethical and what is not. With newspapers it is all about who can put out the story first and ethics in photography probably wont be the first thing they are concerned about. It is upsetting for people who have talent, and went to school for photography and are now just being put aside for these "amateur" photos. So I feel that this may hurt the media, especially if these pictures that are taken and put in the article do not represent the actually time and place of the story. Misleading photos are just as bad as journalists lying in their stories.

Howie Good said...

there are a number of ways to view the issue raised by the development described in the article. we can see it as enabling or empowering amateurs; we can see it as harming professional photojournalists; and, perhaps most important, we can see it as either compromising or augmenting public communication (for that is what journalism is: "seek truth & report it").

Samantha said...

This was an interesting article and one that personally affects me because I am majoring in both photography and journalism. If what this article predicts happens, that more magazines and newspapers will start using stock photos and photos by amateurs instead of hiring freelance or full-time photographers, then my future is in trouble. It upsets me because I have gone to school to learn the rules and techniques, this means I should have an advantage, not a disadvantage like the article seems to point out.

I think this practice will hinder media ethics, not only because it will make it harder for me to find a job, but also because photojournalists have learned what they should and shouldn't do. They have either taken classes or learned in the field what is ethical and what crosses the line. For example, an amateur may rearrange the scene or move people in a picture, trying to compose a more interesting photograph instead of a truthful one. This is a practice that is frowned upon in the field and can even get you fired. The amateurs who don't know this, however, and only want to make a nice picture will be crossing the ethical line and sending out pictures that are less than truthful to the world.

I cannot stand the final quote by Ms. Pruitt stating that nobody knows the rules of photography so nobody cares about them. This upsets me because what if that could be said for any profession? If regular citizens don't know the rules in journalism does that mean they don't care when a story is gathered using lies and deceit? Or when a journalist makes up quotes because they're more interesting? I think people like this woman are the reason we need professionals who won't disregard the rules.

I, however, did like one of the last quotes in the article by Ms. Eisman, "Can an amateur take a picture as good as a professional? Sure," Ms. Eismann said. “Can they do it on demand? Can they do it again? Can they do it over and over? Can they do it when a scene isn’t that interesting?” This proves that amateur photographers are not reliable. I think the media needs people who know and care about the rules and will uphold ethical principles instead of just taking pretty pictures.

George Selby said...

Photojournalists suffer from the same industry wide amateur take-over of their medium as reporters and journalists do. Just like anyone can go out and write an article, anyone can go out and take some neat pictures. This by itself is not unethical. Everyone has the right to take and sell pictures for any price they want.
The way these pictures are used, and the way they are presented can bring up some ethical problems. I have almost never stopped to consider whether or not a picture was a stock photo. I have no idea how many times I have seen an article accompanied by a photo of something unrelated, and not even thought to check. There should always be a way for the reader to know where a picture comes from. With a takeover of stock photos, real photographers’ materiel gets lost in the mix. This is the worst thing that can happen to photographers and, though they were not mentioned in the article, videographers.
On the Daily Show, they exposed Sean Hannity using Glen Beck’s protest footage as though it was footage of a totally different protest. This was the first thing I thought of when I read this article. Now that I know there is such a takeover of stock materiel it makes perfect sense that they would do that, but this practice is deceptive by nature. Stock photos can be manipulated, and inherently biased. An amateur will not know how to do the photographer’s job objectively.
A media company will never need to tell the amateur what they are using their work for, but an amateur also does not really care how his images are used, or how much he sells them for. If the image is used improperly, there is no one to stop it.
So, the facts that people do not notice where the photos in the media come from, that stock photos are easily biased, that it can be hard to tell what a photo is actually a picture of, and that amateur photographers don’t care what happens to their work, are all strong indications that the advent of stock images will hamper media ethics.

J.Rodriguez said...

Unfortunately I feel like this is going on a lot due to the declining economy. Companies are basically being forced to choose amateur taken pictures over professional taken pictures. Jobs are being given to the "Cheaper" sources because its all that is available. The quote from the article “The quality of licensed imagery is virtually indistinguishable now from the quality of images they might commission,” Mr. Klein said. Yet “the price point that the client, or customer, is charged is a fraction of the price point which they would pay for a professional image.” stuck out to me the most. I feel like companies are lowering there standards when they do this because There is always a difference between professional and amateur. Taking time is not always bad. More work and time is put into a photo and that is when it comes out to look its best. Companies try to go the cheaper way and they doesn't always benefit from it.

Maxim Alter said...
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Maxim Alter said...

This whole article sort of echoed a similar problem with all of the media. The idea that amateurs are ruining the quality of what professionals bring to the table can be viewed in more than just photojournalism.

Look at journalism as a whole. There are people who call themselves journalists and have blogs or are contributing writers to publications looking for a cheaper substitute, and many of these "amateurs" don't understand all the rules and guidelines that come with the schooling for those that are professionals in journalism.

Because publications are looking for cheeper ways to have the similar material, there is no doubt that the quality of newspapers and magazines are only going to get worse. You get what you pay for. Sadly, even some of the biggest publications cant afford an entire staff of professionals anymore.

In my Press in America class with Miraldi, we read a book called "The Cult of the Amateur," which basically discussed what the world was becoming. According to the author, the amateurs (also known as the Youtube generation), have been taking over and because of it, the quality of things like news and media have been decreasing.

All of this is hurting media ethics because we are losing site of what it means to take the time to become a professional and to do things the right way. It may be more expensive, but it isn't right to just look at what is cheaper rather then what is better.

Imagine if they were bringing in part-time or amateur doctors to do open heart surgery...

Chanel Arias said...

It seems that the only unethical part about the practice of using amateur photos is how it hurts professional photojournalists financially. Due to the accessibility of nice digital cameras nowadays, it doesn't take much for someone with not much photography experience to produce a quality photo. It seems that a lot of reasoning behind those who are against the use of amateur photos is because they have not studied in the photojournalism area as professionals have.

One idea that many people can't seem to grasp is the fact that when one chooses their profession based on an art form, in this case photography, it should be accepted that sooner or later, something will go wrong financially. This is where the term starving artist comes from!

A good point is brought in previous entries that an average person's perspective is great, but it could also lead to the point of laziness on the behalf of the newspaper companies and magazines. Although I am in favor of the use of amateur photos in all types of news stories, I do not think that companies should stop sending out professionals to get a good photograph of the story.

If newspapers and magazines solely choose to recognize "photojournalism" by amateurs because it is cheap, or they are lazy, then I do not agree with this system that is coming about. But if one of the main motivators for including photos in news stories from your every day person, is to show the people's perspective then I am all for it.

Julia said...

This is a very relevant issue for many of my photojournalist friends. Those who are like Mr.Eich, and have photojournalism training, are resentful to the "invasion" of amateur photojournalists. But, on the other hand, those, like Ms.Pruitt, who participate in stock photography see it in another light. They believe they are only broadening the information that is available to accompany stories. One line in the article opened my eyes to the fact that maybe this is an ethical problem: "magazines once sniffed at stock photographs, which are existing images, not original assignments, shrinking editorial budgets made them reconsider." This suggests that stock photography is a second-best option, made necessary by lack of funds. I am reminded of the "good work" discussion we had in class. With the doors open to amateur photographers, there are choices when it comes to stock photography, but also a lot more unnecessary information out there. Not all amateur photographers can be as lucky as Ms.Pruitt and have their work found on Flickr. Consistency is something amateur's may not have, whereas a studied photojournalist has the knowledge and the skill, he/she didn't just get lucky.

I would say overall the article furthers media ethics. In brings media ethics to a larger group of people, since many people are amateur photographers today.

JustinMcCarthy said...

I think the article describes developments that hamper media ethics.
The profession of photojournalism used to be done by people who were devoted to it. Now, that profession has been invaded by amateurs who may be more inclined to ignore ethics.
As we discussed in class, there are some unethical things that can be done with photographs. An amateur without proper training in photography could easily post photos to Flickr without understanding the privacy laws that exist. An amateur could unethically alter a photo through the use of Photoshop or other programs.
On top of that, amateurs cheapen an industry that many people have worked hard to be part of. This could lead to photojournalism becoming obsolete.
Although I do not think that people like Ms. Pruitt are out to ruin an industry, I think that amateurs like her are unaware of some of the damage they do. I see this problem more as ignorance to ethics rather than an attack on it.

pspengeman said...

I think this issue can be seen as good or bad depending on the individual photographer. Just because you're an amateur photographer, doesn't mean you can't behold a strong moral value for relaying whatever it is they're photographing. Is it true that by taking classes, going to school, learning about media ethics all help an individual know the difference between "right" or "wrong" -- probably so. But as Prof. Good showed us buy the e-mail he received years ago from a past student, just because you take a media ethics class doesn't mean you posses good ethics (the girl who was later fired went to New Paltz, and was enrolled in the same media ethics class we're all in now).

What is all, unfortunately, comes down too is the economical aspect of photojournalism. What can publications do to save money? Well, as the article explains, they hire amateurs, hobbyist photographers, or buy digital forms online from sites like Flickr or other picture hosting sites. And when companies base their decisions on economical reasons as opposed to ethical reasons, then it is indeed hampering media ethics as a whole.

pspengeman said...
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KHutchinson said...

I appolpgize for the lateness of this response. I did not realize that there was a blog posted.

I think overall there is a general hindrance put on the photojournalism industry because of exactly what they're saying; the unprofessional's willingness to produce works and take less pay. It creates a realm that relies more on the possession of a usable picture rather than the ability and skills of the photographer.
It kind of ties into what we were talking about when we discusses being a good journalist. You can't just start off with no training and produce stories that are of the caliber that a journalist working 10 years would create. Photography is the same.
As a previous photograph major, I agree with this on many more levels than that of an ethical one. Someone who picks up their camera for the first time is not going to know the kinds of things, and have the knowledge or skills that an artist of two decades will have. It seems now that the industry is gratifying these unprofessional's and punishing those who take their work and art seriously, expecting to be compensated for their efforts. People don't seem to realize with photography they they're paying for more than the picture. They're paying for the time and effort it took to get that picture. If we go around accepting submissions of snapshots of toddlers on the front lawn instead of holding out for the beautiful piece sought out and created by a devoted photographer, we are kind of spitting in the face of the people who work hard in that industry.

Sarah Boalt said...

This article is one that furthers the study of ethics, however, it does provide a bit of an argument for the other side. This article shows how many struggling photojournalists who are trying to make photojournalism their main source of money are basically getting work taken away from them. The article raises a good point that companies are cutting corners by offering people who take pictures for fun a check, which they would happily take for not really doing any work, and therefore undercutting the photojournalist. It isn't fair for companies to undermine the skill, talent, dedication, and hard work that these people put in to take what they love and turn it into a profession. It almost seems like they're looking for some cheap filler that will look nice on the page and cost them next to nothing as opposed to getting someone who really knows what they're doing and getting quality pictures. However, the article does raise a point that the people who take pictures as a hobby do have the capability of taking pictures that people will like or be moved by. While this is a valid point, that does not make it right to basically take jobs away from people who worked hard to do that with they're life. They went to school, paid their dues, and know the techniques and skills that are involved with this job. It is something that they hope to make their career and it seems they've been cheated in a sense, almost as if they had been fooled into thinking they could get a job doing this. It discouraging to think that something you've worked so hard for is being done by anyone with a camera for the check you should be getting. I believe this article does a good job to further the discussion of media ethics, but it does bring up some valid view points from the other side.

Is Media Ethics Education DOA?

It sounds like a joke Jay Leno would tell during his opening monologue on The Tonight Show. Hear about the graduate students at the prestigious journalism school? They got caught cheating on an ethics exam. Ha ha ha. Except that’s actually what happened at Columbia University in late 2006.

Students had been given 48 hours to sign onto a Columbia Web site to take the final exam in a required course called “Critical Issues in Journalism.” They then had 90 minutes to answer two essay questions.

The students were warned to not discuss the questions with each other, but apparently they did. As the headline over a story reporting the scandal put it, “Ivy J-Schoolers Fail Ethics, Ace Irony.”

No one admitted cheating despite pressure from the school’s administrators and pleas from classmates, who feared the scandal would damage the market value of their degrees. Meanwhile, the teacher of the course, New York Times columnist Samuel G. Freedman, refused to comment. But if the disgruntled posts on RateMyProfessors.com are any indication, his students hadn’t exactly been soaking up knowledge. “Maybe he could e-mail his ‘speeches’ to the students instead of making everyone suffer through the most wasted class in j-school. . . ,” one read.

There’s an old cowboy saying that goes, “When your horse dies, get off.” Journalism ethics education is a dead horse. Or else those aren’t vultures circling in the sky.

A Question for Socrates

The question of how ethics is learned, or even if it can be, is as old as Western philosophy. In Plato’s dialog Meno the title character asks, “Can you tell me, Socrates, whether virtue is acquired by teaching or by practice; or if neither by teaching nor practice, then whether it comes to man by nature, or in what other way?” Of course, Socrates, being Socrates, resists giving a definite answer. But we can’t. The sad fact is, students had better get an effective ethics education now or they may never.

Last summer I conducted an ethics workshop for some reporters and editors at the Poughkeepsie Journal, a small daily in upstate
New York owned by Gannett Co., Inc. The woman in charge of organizing the workshop had supplied us with several case studies to examine. I remember one dealt with a classic conflict of interest, a copy editor who moonlighted at a local radio station.

But what I remember most is the air of defeat that clung to the staff as we sat on hard plastic chairs in the break room discussing the cases. I could hear in their voices the bitterness and cynicism of employees forced to follow corporate policies they despised. Recently, for example, the paper had started running display ads on the front page and section fronts, a much more grievous ethical lapse, their mumbled asides suggested, than anything the case studies might have to offer.

I don’t want my students to ever wear the gray, defeated expression I saw that day on the faces at the Journal. But given the downward direction in which the media are moving, and fast, how in the world can I prevent it from happening?

Teaching Media Ethics by Telling Stories

A friend of mine who teaches at a big Midwestern university recounts in class the events of her first week as a reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune. She was sent to Duluth to cover Democratic presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey on the campaign trail. When they were introduced, Humphrey vigorously shook her hand. “Oh yes, Susan,” he said, “I read your stuff all the time.” He couldn’t have read her stuff, though; she hadn’t written anything yet. “Just a few words,” she explains to her students, “but words that taught this fledging reporter a great lesson about pols and the little lies they tell.”

I usually find occasion during the semester to quote I. F. Stone’s dictum, “Every government is run by liars and thieves, and nothing they say should be believed,” to make the same point. But Susan’s story makes the point better. That’s because it has existential force. Her story vividly captures in a way a secondhand quote can’t the realities of a reporter’s life.

Some might think telling “war stories” is a waste of precious class time. I’ve a colleague who didn’t want to fall into the “trap” of regaling students with stories ad nauseam (“which, let’s face it, is easier than teaching or grading,” he said). So one semester he kept track. When he toted it all up at the end, he was surprised that he’d used less than an hour - out of 45 – talking about his newspaper experiences. And yet, he admitted, it was his stories that students seemed to remember most.

“Stories teach us how to live,” Daniel Taylor said in his essay, “The Ethical Implications of Storytelling.” What he meant was that stories preserve our experience for contemplation and evaluation. Although not all stories carry a heavy message, there’s an entire category of stories, so-called “exemplary tales,” that are told to convey a moral.

Our war stories are potentially just such tales. They can provide evidence, in ethicist John Barton’s words, of “how real human beings live through various crises and trials and remain human.” My colleague who kept tabs on his storytelling has described his stories as cautionary. Most, he said, deal with “screwups I learned from.”

But sometimes the storyteller and the audience can’t agree on what exactly the moral of a story is.

When Susan was a cub reporter on the Tribune, she interviewed the Beatles, who were on their second tour of the States. She got into their hotel room by dressing up as a waitress in an ugly, mustard-colored uniform and accompanying an actual room service waiter upstairs. Ringo took one look at her little plastic name tag – it read “Donna Brown” – and snorted, “What kind of name is that?” The waiter nudged her in the side. “Tell them what you real name is,” he urged. She did, as well as her reason for being there. Rather than throw her out, the Beatles politely answered her questions. They even let her phone for a photographer. The next day her story ran on the front page, with a photo of John sitting at a table and looking up at her and laughing as she poured coffee in his cup. She still has a glossy print of that photo somewhere.

Many of Susan’s students think she’s nuts for not having the photo hanging up in her office. They also think she’s nuts for saying she’d never participate in the same kind of stunt today. To her celebrity-struck students, disguising herself as a hotel waitress to get an interview with the Beatles seems soooo cool. They lose all sight of the fact that it wasn’t a story of vital public interest that demanded undercover methods.

Susan intends one lesson when she talks about her hard day’s night, but her students, living in a paparazzi-saturated culture, draw another. “It may be a lost cause,” she remarked to me.

Or maybe not. Negotiations over what the point of a story is can be part of the point of the story. In the process of negotiating, we test different interpretations, try out different themes. This is helpful. This is educational. Lawrence Kohlberg, the Harvard psychologist famous for his research on the stages of moral development, contended that “the teaching of virtue is the asking of questions. . . not the giving of answers.” Stories don’t necessarily have to yield clear moral rules to be of value. It’s enough sometimes if they just give us something to think about.