Ethics Of Journalism Must Apply To Graphics

Goertzen quería publicar una aclaración sobre un gráfico que fue descalificado recientemente en la SND. Para los integrantes del jurado el sólo hecho de que el artista hubiese agregado el logo de Lightwave en la infografía que había hecho con ese programa de 3 D, lo dejaba fuera de carrera.

(Por Jeff Goertzen) It took less than a minute of discussion between us five judges to come to a unanimous decision. We awarded a silver award to the Dallas Morning News for their informational graphic that illustrated the inside of a NASCAR transporter. It was a work of art. A perfectly rendered graphic. All the elements were there and the graphic images told a story that needed no words.
As our decision was being recorded, one of the judges noticed that there was a NewTek logo illustrated on the side of the NASCAR hauler in the graphic. At first we were all stunned, but as reality sank in, we knew the implications this would have on the entry.
NewTek logoNewTek is the company that makes the 3-D program Lightwave and is the program of choice for many informational graphics artists in the newspaper industry, including the artists of the Dallas Morning News. In fact, NewTek is a co-sponsor of the Lightwave workshops organized by the Dallas Morning News and SND. As these facts surfaced in our discussion between our panel of judges and supervisors, it became obvious that there was a serious breach of ethics with this entry. Ultimately the graphic was disqualified.
Richard Curtis, USA Today graphics editor who was of the judges on the panel said, "If one of my artists had done this, he or she would have been fired."
I've always emphasized that informational graphics are every bit as much a part of journalism as the stories we print in our papers. Our work must be 100 percent credible. The facts must be accurate and the content believable.  Can a graphic be libelous? Can it slander? Can it pleagarize? Of course it can. And this graphic by the Dallas Morning News was no exception to the rules of journalism. And the judges were in agreement with that.
NASCAR teams make most of their revenues through sponsors who pay millions to have their corporate logos placed on the vehicles. But this particular graphic was illustrating a generic team. So why put real logos on the side of the vehicle? Why not create generic logos? Why illustrate a NewTek logo? As one judge commented during the discussion, "Who's to say that NewTek didn't pay the artist to have that logo placed in the graphic?"
I talked with Dallas Morning News art director Chris Morris that evening by telephone to tell him what had happend to their entry and I asked him about the logo. According to Morris, the logo was really put there as an afterthought. "We wanted to make the graphic generic, but to make it realistic we had to put some logos on the side of the hauler," said Morris. "In fact, I went to our editor and asked him if we could put the Dallas Morning News logo on the hauler, but he didn't like the idea."
Chris said that they were just looking for any logos to put on the hauler and that they thought it would be cool to put the NewTek logo on it. He said they really didn't think anything of it.
Since this all happened, I've talked with Morris about this incodent extensively. While it has been a great disappointment for his department to be disqualified, it was a lesson well learned and is something he feels is valuable to share within our industry.

Jeff Goertzen
es director del Departamento de infografía
de la Society For News Design.


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