Photographer Nana Kofi Acquah on the ethics of imaging a pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to tens of thousands of deaths and drastically affected people’s everyday lives worldwide, wreaking unprecedented havoc on the healthcare sector, livelihoods, and economies in monumental ways. Numerous hard truths have become even more clear during this crisis, such as the complete lack of preparedness of many so-called wealthy, “developed,” and “modern” countries as well as massive social inequalities that continue to oppress marginalized people.

While the health, safety, and well-being of people is paramount, another disparity this pandemic has illuminated is how communities around the world are visually portrayed by mainstream media during times of crisis.

From websites and newsrooms to databases and collectives, women are working to overcome sexism and discrimination as they shape a new frontier in media.

Iman Udayni waits alongside her family for the Eid al-Fitr prayer to begin at Bensonhurst Park in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bay Ridge on June 25, 2017. The family moved to the United States in 2011 and 2012 to escape war in Yemen. Photo by Women Photograph member Kholood Eid, @kholoodeid

Women have forged, paved, and maintained pathways in journalism since breaking into the industry in the mid-1800s. Yet the status that women hold in newsrooms, behind the camera, and in positions of power throughout the industry remains bleak.

To cite just a few grim statistics: as of last year women had won only 16 percent of Pulitzer prizes in all categories, a full century after the creation of the award. Only 38 percent of bylines in the top 20 news organizations in the U.S. go to women, and women of color represent just 7.95 percent of U.S. print newsroom staff. In June 2017 Poynter reported that women who were employed full-time by Dow Jones & Company earned less than 85 percent of what their male counterparts earned. …

Re-Picture launches an 8-part series that questions factors contributing to issues such as sensationalism, reductionism, racism, underrepresentation, and sexism — not only within journalism and society, but also within ourselves.

Photos by contributors to the The Everyday Projects

Power structures such as racism and patriarchy, strengthened by colonization and privilege, have affected our global society since time immemorial and remain deeply and boundlessly entrenched in our world. Though journalism is a path that many pursue for altruistic reasons — in order to tell the truth and expose injustices — it is also susceptible to, if not complicit in, these unjust systems.

While there are countless examples of journalism’s positive impact on history, there is also a long list of ways the media has grotesquely portrayed and taken advantage of underrepresented people worldwide. …


Danielle Villasana

Independent Photojournalist focusing on human rights, women, identity, and health worldwide. Community Team at The Everyday Projects, @EverydayEverywhere.

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