In depicting scenes of tragedy, what happens when photojournalists become the story? Do photojournalists have a duty to rescue those they photograph? Should they? This article will use a series of iconic images – and the stories of the photojournalists behind the camera – to illustrate how exploring these questions can be a provocative vehicle through which to engage new law students in legal writing and analysis. The article focuses on an exercise that centers around a fictional “Duty to Rescue” statute modeled after European statutes of the same kind. The exercise is anchored by four images – three still photographs and one image that is part of a short documentary film – of people in tragic and near-death situations. The article explores ways to use the stories behind these images to engage law students in the question of whether the photojournalists who took the images had violated the fictional Duty to Rescue statute, and concludes with a discussion of ideas on how the basic exercise can be modified and/or expanded, including but not limited to raising issues of morality-based lawmaking, ethics, fairness, and differences in law across cultures.
GW Paper Series
GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2014-47; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2014-47
Iselin M. Gambert (2014) Duty to rescue? Exploring legal analysis through the lens of photojournalists’ storytelling dilemmas, The Law Teacher, 48:2, 140-153, DOI: 10.1080/03069400.2014.914688