Being open and upfront about using recording equipment

We’re not going undercover here. And if you’re not using an external microphone a digital recorder is pretty easy to overlook. So, be transparent. Act like a pro. Get permission from the owner of a business before recording. Tell them what you’re up to. Hey, they may even have suggestions on good natural sound for you. If you’re in a public place hold up your recorder so people walking by take note. If someone asks you what you’re doing explain.

Erika — I think it was Erika — pointed out that Washington is a two-party consent state. That is, you can’t record a telephone conversation or any conversation without the consent of all parties. Thank you Erika for reminding us of this. For more information read this.

Also, here’s what the BBC has to say about people’s expectation of privacy.

“We should operate openly wherever we are unless we have approval for secret recording. This is particularly important when our audio-visual equipment is not very obvious as in the case of small video cameras, mobile phone cameras or fixed webcams. ”

And the BBC on recording on private property.

“We normally obtain consent before recording on private property. However, recording without prior permission may be justified in places where the public has general access, for example, a shopping mall, railway station or airport, or where we have reason to believe illegal or anti-social behaviour is being exposed.”

Am linking to the BBC’s editorial guidelines over to the right, under “ethics.”

Also, NPR’s News Code of Ethics posted under “ethics.”

And one thing I forgot to mention: Kids. Kids make good audio. But kids are kids. You MUST get permission from parents if you’re going to record/interview/photograph kids. If you decide to pursue kids talk to their parents and get their contact information and bring that to me. Also, you’re always free to give anyone you report/run into my contact information. Or send them to this blog. And remember, if someone asks “Is this going to be published?” say “Yes.”

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4 responses to “Being open and upfront about using recording equipment

  1. it was me–just to let you know. 🙂

  2. While it is a commonly held belief that consent must be attained in order to legally photograph minors in public places, that actually isn’t the case. Check out this NY Times story,

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/28/us/28pedophile.html?scp=4&sq=%22jack+mcclellan%22&st=nyt

    From the story on page two: “In terms of children’s images, [Professor of Law Eugene Volokh], said: ‘The general rule is pictures of people in public are free for people to publish. Now if it is without permission and the person is a child and he suggests the children are sexual targets, you can imagine a court saying this is a new First Amendment exception. But it would be an uphill battle.'”

    However, that’s only the legal aspect of it. I think, ethically speaking, one should always attain permission from a minor’s parent or guardian before shooting pictures.

    As a parent myself, I would question anyone who did otherwise.

  3. yet another cool photo link, this one from the Wall Street Journal:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/photojournal/

    hey Florangela, you haven’t posted a few of the other links I posted. Let me know if you want me to post them again under this thread.

  4. Just posted at the Magnum blog:

    http://blog.magnumphotos.com/2009/01/on_editorial_responsibility.html

    A very good discussion about the NY Times’ coverage of Gaza.

    Don’t be shy to jump on in and post a comment. That’s what’s so cool about the Magnum blog in the first place: the photographers (some of the best in the world) are quite often part of the conversation.

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