Photojournalist on the Edge: Reactions to Kevin Carter's Sudan Famine Photo

Yung Soo Kim, James D. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This study explores the ethical dilemma photojournalists face when professional duty conflicts with the normative ethics of the reading public. The study investigates the public's and photojournalists' perceptions of appropriate reactions to the circumstances surrounding Kevin Carter's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of a collapsed Sudanese girl as a vulture awaits her death. The study used an online survey to measure the perceptions of appropriate reactions. Both readers and journalists respondents perceived Carter's photograph of a Sudanese girl suffering from starvation as an accurate documentation of an important social issue. Furthermore, most agreed that the picture was newsworthy and accepted the professional journalistic ethical rationale for making the photograph. The majority indicated that they would have made the photo themselves under similar circumstances, but the readers said that would have done more to help the girl than Carter did.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-219
Number of pages15
JournalVisual Communication Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Education


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