Photo credit: Andrii Yalanskyi, Getty Images Signature

Consent conversations with groups

In storytelling, consent is a key consideration. The people we feature in our stories, those we tell stories about, those whose images we use, whose statements and perspectives frame the story, must have an equal say in how the story is told. Contributors have the right to decide on the terms of their story sharing and usage.

As a core ethic of dignified storytelling, consent from contributors must be freely given, fully informed, and obtained prior to any story gathering. However, informed consent must be actively pursued and must not be limited to a mere formality of getting signatures on a consent form. Adequate time must be allocated for ongoing dialogue with potential contributors that allows them to consider and meaningfully contribute to the story-gathering request. It is imperative that all involved stakeholders clearly understand the implications of their agreement to have their story – whether visual or written – collected, documented, and shared in line with any privacy or confidentiality wishes.

Here are some guidelines on seeking consent from contributors based on specific scenarios. 

Adults in a non-sensitive context

When featuring adults in a non-sensitve context:

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Amudat, Uganda: Agropastoral women harvest greens in a junior Farmer Field School demonstration farm. Credit: FAO / Luis Tato

Children in any context

When featuring children in any context: 

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Children walking on street with tents Credit: Ahmed Akacha, Pexels

Adults in a sensitive context

When featuring adults in a sensitve context: 

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Refugees with luggage. Credit: Andrey Popov, Getty Images

Crowds in a public place

When featuring crowds in a public place: 

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Tokyo crowd. Credit: Lance B, Getty Images

This is based on information from Putting the People in the Pictures First: Ethical guidelines for the collection and use of content (images and stories), Bond, 2019.

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