Upon reading Covering the Moment of Death in War, I do agree with the U.S. defense secretary, Robert Gates, about how the AP shouldn’t have published the picture. I don’t believe the picture of Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard dying should have been published because it went directly against his fathers wishes. Since the article explained that the AP reporter, Julie Jacobson had taken pictures of Bernard before he was killed, I think one of those pictures should have been used. While I understand the photo might have helped people see what the cost of war was, I don’t think the family of Bernard wanted other people to remember him like that.
Even if the Marines had given me permission to publish the photo, I still would have chosen a different one to publish. I think what a family wants is more important than what the Marines say is okay.
I don’t think much would have changed my mind about not using that picture, unless the family said it was okay. Or if someone higher up was really insistent on having the picture published for whatever reason. If either of those two things happened, I would publish the photo but put a warning at the beginning of the article to warn people about the picture that was coming up. Another reason I might publish the picture is if I’m allowed to only publish it online instead of in the paper as well.
Covering the Moment of Death in War, page 180 from Media Ethics: Key Principles for Responsible Practice by Patrick Lee Plaisance