In the latest in the ongoing saga involving Magnum Photos, the company has made good on its promise to publish its previously-private Code of Conduct. In it, the company does not mention specifically child protection.
Magnum’s entire Code of Conduct can now be reviewed here, and the organization says that it will perform a general review of the document in January of 2022, but may review and update it earlier in the event changes are needed, such as would be the case with any adjustments to relevant legislation.
Additionally, the 2018 Code of Conduct that was not made public has been replaced with this 2021 version of the Code and also with a new Public Complaints Policy and Procedure.
According to Magnum, the reason the previous Code of Conduct could not be publicized was due to a confidentiality clause that prevented its publication. That clause has been removed, which allowed Magnum to make the policy openly available to all.
It should be noted that Magnum’s President, Olivia Arthur, is quoted as saying the agency’s code was a “six-page long internal HR document that we are not looking to put on trial by Twitter.”
In August last year, the agency told Fstoppers via email that it “can’t think of any company which would supply its confidential HR documents. That remains a very reasonable position in this case.” While this is true, it purposely sidesteps the issue of a code of conduct being a protected HR document, which is unusual, and simply fixates on the fact HR documents aren’t shared. This was a disingenuous twisting of language. The recent publication of this 2021 version of the Code of Conduct clearly indicates that codes of conduct do not have to be classified as confidential HR documents.
“The principles behind the 2021 Code of Conduct are the same as in 2018 – the values, standards, and ethics have not changed,” Magnum writes. “Magnum is wholly committed to fostering a dignified, inclusive, and welcoming environment that respects each person’s rights and individual worth.”
While, as noted, the Code of Conduct does not mention child protection, Magnum said in its statement on January 5 that it intends to publish a new child safeguarding policy along with its “new ethical code.”
Magnum has recently come under fire for lacking transparency and sidestepping accountability. In a letter signed by over 600 professional photographers and students, Magnum was called on to actively participate in addressing sexual harassment in the industry, namely with regards to accusations made against its photographer David Alan Harvey.
Harvey, who has become the center of multiple scandals that have brought to light Magnum’s supposed shortcomings, has denied all allegations made against him.
— David Alan Harvey (@davidalanharvey) January 5, 2021
In a statement published to Twitter, Harvey’s lawyer says that he “welcomes” the promised investigations into the allegations put forth in a damning expose published to the Columbia Journalism Review.
“Mr. Harvey looks forward to cooperating fully to clear his good name. He also looks forward to holding those accountable who have willfully and recklessly set about to destroy his reputation after an exemplary career and over a half-century of mentoring aspiring photographers across the globe,” the letter reads.
“For more than four months, Magnum has proactively scoured the earth pleading for accusers to come forward with evidence of misconduct about Mr. Harvey. Magnum has repeatedly failed,” his lawyer writes.
“David Alan Harvey will not be cancelled,” the letter ends, emphatically.
Editor’s note: The original version of this article incorrectly stated the code of conduct prevented the publication and sale of images that did not have the subject’s consent. That line has been removed.