World Press Photo Second Prize Contemporary Issues Category, Singles. Photo by Ronghui Chen, China, City Express

The National Press Photographers Association and World Press Photo plan to hold a symposium later in 2015 to talk about ethics in photography, following news that 20% of the photos entered in the World Press Photo contest were disqualified after reaching the penultimate round, due to digital manipulations of some sort being discovered. Meanwhile, the NPPA has called on the photographers disqualified from the contest to release their photos to the public.

The news was revealed by the NPPA over the weekend. Says its President Mark Dolan, in part, “The news that so many final entries in World Press were disqualified because of digital manipulation is staggering, and it obviously raises concerns about entries in our own contest.” He has praised World Press for requiring its finalists to produce RAW files for examination, and has hinted that the NPPA might do the same in the future.

For now, however, the two organizations are looking to get together this fall – possibly at Columbia University, though it hasn’t yet confirmed whether it will host the event – to discuss photography ethics. Dolan is calling for sensible discourse in the community, saying, “…rather than accusing, I believe what we need to be doing is questioning – WHY is this happening and, more importantly, WHAT can we do to change it?”

World Press Photo’s Lars Boering, managing director, also commented on the planned symposium, and he wants to see it touch on more than just ethical considerations. “…it all needs to be discussed, including manipulation, and what the industry thinks is still okay as far as working on the files. It will be a follow-up discussion to the one we will have about this during the World Press Photo Awards Day in Amsterdam in April. And it should go beyond World Press and the photographers as well, because we’ve realized that a lot of publishing houses are also looking into this, because it’s not only the photographers who work on the files but also the art departments as well.”

As to whether the disqualified photographers will release their photographs to the public, Boering doesn’t believe it will happen:

“NPPA’s statement today calls on them to make it public if they want to, but I don’t think they will because it might be very harmful to them and I don’t think people should be punished for making stupid mistakes. It’s a difficult lesson, and one they’ve already learned.”