When to Shoot?

With practically only two weeks left, this trip has proved to be one of the most challenging reporting experiences I’ve had. Despite being almost a month out of school, I feel like I need to head back to Alan Schroeder’s Journalism Ethics and Issues course to ask him some questions.

And it’s not just the language barriers and translators. After editing for hours (and frustration crying through several Final Cut crashes), I finally have two stories I’m proud of from our time in Chios. But as I write this, one is at an impasse. The cause? A young girl.

Here’s the breakdown: we were at Souda camp and shooting b-roll, not interviews, mostly just shots of tents. Suma set up the camera for a shot and…in walks a little girl. Suma doesn’t even reframe around the girl, you can only really see her face and shoulders. She eventually walks off camera, as Suma beckoned her to come out of the frame, because, as we all know, you don’t shoot kids without a guardian’s consent.

Suma was approached by a man we assume to be her guardian, trying to corral the girl who was now climbing on Suma. But the reality of the situation here is that a lot of kids are unaccompanied minors. For all we know he was a total stranger. He didn’t ask Suma not to film the girl and in various other shots, the girl and an even younger boy appear again, playing around in the corner of the frame as Suma moves the camera to other subjects. The other reality is that the shot of the girl is a really powerful image. Regardless of whatever “political views” you hold, it’s nearly impossible to argue that this child should have to live in these conditions.

Collectively, Team Chios has debated using this five-second clip a lot. Olivia said today that she changed her mind on using it four times through the course of a conversation. It’s still up for debate now. But when (if at all) does the weight of conflict override the issue of consent? Did the AP debate the issue of consent when it came to Nick Ut’s The Terror of War? Did The New York Times worry over the consent of Kevin Carter’s The Vulture and the Little Girl? I don’t know. I wish I had an answer to this.

When I figure something out, I’ll let you all know. Till then…


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