The Strength of the Ethical Argument in “The Ethics and Aesthetics of Photojournalism”

In Marina Smolens’ essay entitled, “The Ethics and Aesthetics of Photojournalism,” she explores the idea of the possibly exploitative and over-beautifying nature of modern photojournalism. Through her balanced use of an emotional appeal in pathos, establishing authority in ethos, and providing many credible sources in logos, Smolens successfully proved her thesis with a strong argument.

According to this essay, “The Ethics and Aesthetics of Photojournalism”, photojournalism is different from fine art photography in some key ways and certain rules apply to photojournalists and their work. There is a lot of pressure and critiques placed upon photojournalists as their job is to tread on a fine line between ethics and information.

Smolens used pathos, ethos, and logos to strengthen her argument and appeal to and capture the attention of her audience.

Smolens utilized pathos in many ways throughout the course of her essay. For instance, when discussing Sebastiao Salgado’s photograph, The End of the Road”, Smolens uses a lot of emotionally charged language to connect with the reader and get her point across. Using this kind of language allows for the reader to emotionally connect with the piece and it strengthens the argument because the audience gets personally invested which makes them more likely to believe the thesis.  Since the topic of this essay was centered around the beautification and ethical nature of photojournalism, Smolens used an abundance of pathos which served her argument well.

Smolens also used the technique of ethos in her essay extensively. Smolens achieved this technique by researching and citing background information from the National Press Photographers Association and its Code of Ethics in order to establish the fact that she is knowledgeable about the topic at hand.

Personally, there were a few things I would have done differently if I was writing about this topic. I would have focused on more prominently controversial photos for my examples. Using pictures with more cultural weight would have taken Smolens’ argument to another level.

Although there were a few things I would have done differently when tackling this topic, Smolens successfully proved her thesis through her use of many argumentative methods. She appealed to her audience’s emotions using pathos, established her own authority and credibility on the topic using ethos, and provided many credible sources and quotes in logos. 

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