Kaitlyn’s Week 14 Post

If I had been the editor for the Associated Press, I would not have published this photos of Lance Cpl. Bernard in the “Moment of Death in War” coverage. While some journalists defended its use and agreed with the decision, I believe that blatantly ignoring his father’s request to not use the graphic photo was unethical.

I do believe that getting the “go ahead” from the Marines was an important part of the decision to publish, however, that would not have influenced my decision to publish against the family’s wishes. In my opinion, the photo should have only been published if the father hadn’t expressed his opposition to it.

The article How Newsrooms Handle Graphic Images of Violence from Nieman Reports discusses the ethical questions surrounding publishing images of violence and death. It emphasizes the importance of these images being published in order to inform of an event’s severity and make stories more impactful, while also expressing concerns about how some may be too traumatic for children or people with close connections to the subject.

With this in mind, I think that even though the photo showed “the real consequences of war,” I think this could have been accomplished using other information, such as the death toll and personal stories told by Marines’ families and perhaps other photos that weren’t necessarily of one specific individual.

https://niemanreports.org/articles/how-newsrooms-handle-graphic-images-of-violence/

Published by

mediaethicsuc2018

Adjunct Professor of Media Ethics in Contemporary Society at Utica College

One thought on “Kaitlyn’s Week 14 Post”

  1. Kaitlyn I agree. To be honest my opinion is I wouldn’t need the Marines’ “permission” to publish the photos but that doesn’t make it right. As I was reviewing for this week, I’m already seeing a lot of overlaps with possible harm and privacy. And if we look ahead to next week for Community, especially if this soldier was from a small town, it would upset a great number of readers, not just family, if they saw those photos, like friends, clergy, former teachers, etc. In this case it would be better to tell, with discretion and taste of course, rather than show.

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