Behind the Scenes: To Publish or Not?

Behind the Scenes: To Publish or Not? – Lens Blog – NYTimes.com.

This is a very tough issue for everybody involved. Reams have been written about it already from the photographer to the Secretary of State.

I agree that it is important to cover the horror of the war including the casualties. But I would not have gone against the explicit wishes of the dead marine”s family. Yes, AP consulted them – good. But then they decided to publish despite their objections.

If I wanted to make a point about the war I would wait until I found a family who were willing to agree to the publicity.

Cynics cannot help feeling that the Secretary of State got involved because he knew that images of blood and death amongst Americans would cause more people to oppose our involvement. It isn’t long ago the government lifted the ban on photos of the return of bodies to Dover AFB. I recall that vivid images of the war in Vietnam were a major factor in turning public opinion against that war.

Now the taboo against showing injuries and death is broken maybe there will be an escalation in gory images. The Thai newspapers are famous for publishing colour pictures of injured and dead people on their front pages. I hope our news does not get like that, but I don’t want it sanitized either.

As I said, this is an incredibly difficult area. I don’t fault the photographer. It’s interesting she said she showed the picture to the dead man’s colleagues and they did not get angry. I expect they want the public back home to know more about what they are going through.

But to me the grieving family’s feelings are paramount. They lost their son. I don’t think they should be forced to sacrifice their privacy as well because an AP executive believes it is for the greater good. Sorry sir, I don’t think it’s your decision alone.

I wonder how the AP executive who made the decision would feel if his son was killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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