Media Ethics and its Evolution: An interview with photographer Ahmed Rasel

Ahmed Rasel (b.1988, Barisal) is a visual storyteller. He earned a Masters in Bengali Literature from the University of Dhaka in 2013. He had an ambition of becoming a poet, before realizing that photography could better blend his poetic feelings and inner vision. He studied Diploma in Photography from Counter Foto- A center for Visual Arts. Personal and collective memory, space, psychological state, and urban melancholia are the important part of his works. His personal experiences intertwined with his work realization of contemporary political and environmental issues.

He has credit of various exhibitions at photo festivals and major art biennials in south Asia. He was one of the finalists of the Samdani Art Award in 2018 and one of the participants of Young Subcontinent Project of Serendipity Arts Festival in India in 2017. He has digitally projected his work in Obscura Photo Festival in Malaysia and at Just Another Photo Festival in Delhi. His works exhibited in Kolkata International Photography Festival in 2019.

(1) What do you think about media ethics and how it is changing?

Ethics builds upon the social values, the perspective of the ruler, social perspective, political perspective, religious practices, etc of a society. When publishing news, some codes of conduct work to make sure if impartiality is being protected, if the objectivity is being preserved, if the public interest is being served, if the balance of information is being maintained, etc. These codes of conduct are the ethics for media. As we see that from the very beginning western people are kind of in the frontline of the society so, there is a major influence of the westerners on media ethics. Even though the way of seeing things change over time but in terms of ethics, the core values remain the same. As an example, before the society and world were more focused on morality but after 1940 the world entered into the liberal economy which is more of a business and economy-focused. So, this type of social change obviously influences ethics also. But the core things such as presenting the truth, serving the public interest, etc kind of remain the same more or less. Other than this, when a news channel or news portal is run or owned by a private corporation or influenced by the ruling party then media ethics is not always practiced properly there. Philosophical evolution is another factor that works behind changes in ethics over time.

(2) Representation: How do you see American photographer Lynsey Addario’s work “Women at war”?

In this work of Lynsey Addario, we see that she has shown the USA women soldiers in Afghanistan. She has shown that the women US soldiers are interacting and gossiping with the natives of Afghanistan. Though the war was started for the interest of the USA, her work mostly shows the good sides of the women USA soldiers in the field. Lynsey completed this work of her as an assignment of the New York Times. So in my opinion this work is a small part of the propaganda that USA ran to convince the world about the legitimacy of the war.

(3) What are your thoughts about racism and its evolution?

Racism is an idea planted in society by the supremacist community. This idea was created and planted in the minds of the society to create binary division so that the dominant power of the supremacists or white community doesn’t fade away. Later laws and regulations were made and added in the constitution to support and bolster this idea. At the very first a myth was created that the black peoples are not much intelligent or hardworking as the white people. So even after amendments were made to officially eliminate the idea and practice of racism, that myth remained and sustained in the society and in the minds of people. This myth is the factor that worked from the background in events like George Floyd’s death by a police officer. Besides this, we can see that black people are mostly grown in a poor environment, didn’t get much nutritious food, quality education, and other benefits that white people get. As a result, they were defeated in the race of advancement by the white people. So there is that.

(4) From the last couple of years, we see the combination of Islam and terrorism. What do you think about this?

This idea of Islam and terrorism combination mainly started after 9/11 in the USA. Terrorist organizations like Taleban, Al-kayeda were the base of this idea. If we notice we will see that at that time USA was having issues and was in war with Muslim countries like Afghanistan, Irak, Iran. So this Islam phobia was a propaganda of US and other NATO nations to protect their supremacy and dominance in world politics and also to create legitimacy about those wars which will benefit them. If we look at India, recent issues like the NRC and anti-Muslim position of the government, I think it is a move of BJP (ruling party of India). They created this communal issue to sustain in power and to cover their failure about the implementation of their electoral manifesto. So, personally I think this Islam phobia is a propaganda of some western countries to protect their predominance and secure their benefits.

(5) What are your thoughts on photographer’s perspective in war photography?

War is mostly about predominance. The message behind a war photo depends on the photographer’s perspective, his nationality, the media agency he works for, etc. For example, in the USA-Afghanistan war, an American photographer will take those photos which support the benefits of the USA and a photographer of Afghanistan will take photos that support the best interest of Afghanistan. It depends on the photographer that which side he supports. Besides this if a photographer of Afghanistan takes war photo who publishes his photos in a US-based media agency then he will need to take photos according to that media agency’s likings and interest since there a monetary matter is present.

— Piyas Biswas —

Student of Diploma in Visual Journalism — The Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University.




Piyas Biswas is an independent photographer with a special interest in Documentary Photography.

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Piyas Biswas

Piyas Biswas

Piyas Biswas is an independent photographer with a special interest in Documentary Photography.

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