Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Kelly P. Werder


Communication, Documentary, Photojournalism, Strategic, Sustainability, Transparency


We are living in the age of the visual. Imagery is an important element in constructing and deriving meaning through symbols, colors, and context. Images may hold persuasive power, be used as evidence, or simply provide a moment of beauty. Organizations rely on photographs to help them convey an image to their stakeholders within annual reports. Telling an organizations' story through photographs has become an intrinsic part of their efforts to convey sustainability. We live in the age of transparency, and organizations that construct an image that is not truthful will face consequences in today's socially connected and conscious world. Corporate social responsibility has become the triple bottom line in many global organizations, but they have yet to embrace the ethics of visually conveying these efforts in a truthful way. This study explored organizations that have been deemed the most open and honest in their CSR reporting to determine if that extends to the use of photographs within these reports. Findings suggest that although truthful photographs do exist within CSR reports, few can be validated due to lack of photo credit or caption information. Publications who do not provide this level of transparency in their visual reporting run the risk of producing skeptical CSR reports.