Freedom of Photography - the Malaysian Scenario: A Vital Element of Press Freedom

Article excerpt

Abstract

Freedom of photography will be discussed in line with ethics, rules and regulations. This research will elaborate the freedom of photography (mainly) focused on freedom of the press that is present in Malaysian scenario. The research will determine two aspects of Freedom of Photography based on Press Freedom. The two aspects are rules and regulations and ethics. These criteria's are used to understand what has been applied in the Malaysian Press. This research will show us the point of view from government regulations that the scenario is practiced by the Malaysian Press industry. Journalistic Principles (Code of Ethics) will be taken as a consideration to show that most decision making for press and photography are related to these principles. Press Freedom also affected the Freedom of Photography in the way of that decision making. This research will discuss the reason of why the Malaysian government plays a role in imposing some rules and law to the press and photography. In conclusion, this research found that Malaysian presses have their freedom in Photography and a degree of toleration of Freedom of Photography within the Journalistic Principle (Code of Ethics), Rules and Regulations. The situation is in line with Malaysia's media rules and ethics or practicing democracy.

Keywords: Visual communication, Ethics, Press freedom, Media law, Freedom of photography, Journalism

1. Introduction

It is to our belief that freedom of photography should, and must be, enclave by the very least, rules and regulations set by governments and the relevant authorities, and universally, by ethics. These rules outline the least and the most minimum criteria and characteristics of doings that human beings should and should not do in order for them to be ethical. In situations where no rules or laws are available or enforced, when faced with an ethical dilemma, one has to come back to oneself and ask what is best to be done. What is good, and what is bad. What is right, and what is wrong. Personal ethics is the best consultant to turn to in these situations (Raboy & Dagenais, 1992).

Previous scholars define ethics as a set of principles, rules or ways of thinking that guide the action of an individual or a group (Velasquez & Rostankowski, 1985), an effort to identify principles that constitute values and rules of life recognized by us as individuals or a group or culture (Fink, 1995) and is a concern for distinguishing between right and wrong for journalism in the public interest (Clarke, 2004). According to Merril (1975), ethics should provide the journalist certain basic principles or standards by which he can judge actions to be right or wrong, good or bad, responsible or irresponsible.

Freedom of photography generally refers to photographs made in public places - not only streets, but parks, beaches, malls, political conventions and myriad other settings - often but not always featuring people, usually in candid situations, going about their everyday lives (Harris & Lester, 2001).

2. Press Freedom and Photography

It is quite true that words and terms can mean whatever any person wants them to mean, and certainly this is true with "press freedom and photograph". But it is what the person wants it to mean that is important, and it is intellectual cowardice to write the concept off as "really inconsequential" or "simply relative" (Kirtley, 2010). The concept is important; in fact, it is basic to all other journalistic considerations. And it must be dealt with - at least on a personal, individual basis. Fundamental question must be answered; for example ; does freedom of photography belong to the press in any aspects related to freedom of the press as long as there are picture values? Does press freedom imply some kind of press responsibility, and if so, what about photography? Or does press freedom mean freedom to the press to have access on photograph to individual privacy? …