Showing protesters faces in China

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in more than a dozen Chinese cities, raising blank white papers to demand freedom of speech and the end of COVID-19 lockdowns. The media have covered the protests with live photos and videos that have shown the protesters’ faces. “While we understand the journalistic responsibility to document what happens in public spaces, we’re concerned that those photos may create openings for retaliation, from doxxing and professional consequences to persecution by police. In a country where protests are rarely tolerated, being photographed in a protest may have unthinkable consequences for the individual,” notes the Far & Near newsletter. The SPJ Code of Ethics says journalists should minimize harm. They must realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention and should weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information. The Code says journalist should “consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication.” They must also consider cultural differences in approach and treatment.