Friday, August 24, 2007

Would You Publish this Photo?

THE FBI IN SEATTLE sent a notice to the local media requesting help. They want to know who are these two men who were seen shooting still images aboard several Seattle ferries.

The men, according to the FBI, are not suspects of any kind. The FBI just wants to know who the men are, and why they were taking pictures.

One Seattle paper, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, ran a story but not the image. They claim that doing so could violate the civil liberties of these two men who might only be tourists rather than terrorists.

The Seattle Times ran the image, as did most of the region's television stations.

Click on the links to read more. What would you do?


Chris said...

No, I would not run it. There's simply not enough information to warrant it. I think too often the media is manipulated and too often the public is manipulated. I believe the press' job is too important to jeopardize it's integrity (I realize we are WAY past that point, but that doesn't mean I think the notion is worth abandoning). And as extreme as this is, and I don't expect it to be a popular belief, I believe that the public is better served in the long run, by journalists reporting the facts and the news, instead of creating it. Even at the occasional cost of people's lives. Think that's obscene? Imagine if the press did their job pre-Gulf War II. Imagine if they didn't just take politicians word for it. Imagine how many lives would have been saved by it. American, Coalition, Iraqi. The news outlets, media outlets have to get back to doing their own jobs correctly, before they start trying to assist other agencies. Let the federal agencies who have lied to us, do their own job. Let the journalists do theirs.

Chris said...

CNN is now running the story.

Chris said...
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Anonymous said...

this seems like a damned if you do and damned if you dont situation. most likely, they are just tourists, but if they were found to be terrorists and it was known the media was given this picture and did nothing with it, imagine all the heat they would get.
James Riggio

Robert said...

I think that based on what we know the photgraph should not have been run. Although it does seem odd that these two men would be doing what appears to be recon, the FBI should have the resources to research and moniter these people without the help of the press. If this turns out to be nothing it will fall on the press and their interpretation of the information the FBI gave them. It will look like they screwed up, they upset the masses and they are to blame. The FBI could just want to avoid the blame falling on them so they ask the media to help. Scapegoat, anyone?

Anonymous said...

I understand given past events why the FBI would be curious about these two men but it's not rational to run the picture of every single curious looking person in the papers. I would have never even ran the artcle because there's no information or reason to suspect these men of any kind of foul play. It's a huge violation of civil liberties and puts a mark on two men who are most likely completely innocent.

Geo said...

These two guys could be the next Richard Jewell's of the world ... innocent victims defamed by the press.

Or they could be the next Mohamed Atta's (the guy who flew the first plane into the World Trade Center).

There is the dilemma. Is it the responsibility of the media to solve this issue, or as Robert says, should the authorities do their own work?

Is it our job as journalists to protect society? Or do we just report on events after they happen?

- George (the teacher)

Anonymous said...

I highly doubt that these men would be suspected if they were white and not ethnic looking. This is another example of stereotyping to protect American's "freedom." Our government seems that it is willing to violate anyone's human rights (freedoms) all in the name of preserving freedom for its citizens. This attitude of hypocracy is precisely what creates more terrorism and anti-American sentiment.

-Emily Gleason

Morgan said...

I think the authorities should do their own work, but instead, they ask the media to do it for them, the media obliges (as they should), and now these poor people in Seattle are probably all worried for no good reason. So the FBI is curious, maybe even a little suspicious? I don't think this warrants getting the media involved...not yet.

Not to mention how these poor guys felt when they opened the paper or went online and saw their picture.

I know the article directly quotes "the men...are not suspects of any kind," but they can say that all they want, now they are unofficial suspects.

Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

And yes, it is the media's responsibility to protect society...but only to a point. It is the media's job to protect the people by informing them of the news i.e. a suspected terrorist was spotted in Seattle, NOT two men were taking pictures and we want to know who they are right now. I feel like the FBI handed this job down to the media so that maybe the media would get partial blame on the off-chance these men did turn out to be up to no good.

Kevin Woerner said...

I would not run this photo. It is a blatant case of racial profiling. I feel that if it were two white men riding around on ferries that this would be a mute point. The lives of the two men in this picture is probably hell now because they have been branded "terrorists". It's hard to believe that with all of the illegal wire taps and invasions of privacy the FBI has been taking part in since 9/11 that they would not know who these two men were. Along with the racial profiling this is even more fear mongering, especially with the 6th anniversary of 9/11 approaching and the vigilance of the American people beginning to wain.

Josh McAdams said...

@ Emily Gleason's comment

I completely disagree. Even if they were white and they still were doing the same suspicious things, the FBI would still be all over them... There are many cases where someone who is "white" is connected with terrorism than you seemingly know of. I doubt the FBI is going to pass off suspicious people just because they don't fit a little stereotype of society.

@ the article

I probably wouldn't post the article because of all of the hard times it would bring for the 2 men being sought if they were purely tourists. Also, if the FBI was suspicious, i'm sure they are more than capable of doing their own research.

-Josh McAdams

John Dailey said...

The picture should be put into the papers, shown on TV, and posted on the internet.
Yes, these people may be just tourists, but what if they aren't? Because the picture has made it this far it has obviously been through the proper channels of the authorities who asked for it to be shown to the public. If the media were to dismiss this as a mere case of racial profiling then they would be failing to make take up their positions as watchdogs for society.
All duties aside, what about the fact that in order to continue providing the news they need to make money? Well, surely the this picture would grab readers attention accomponied by a headline such as "Suspected Terrorists in Seattle." Also, the police have warrants for people they suspect of doing wrong, couldn't we consider this the media's form of a warrant?

Geo said...

The media's form of a warrant, eh? Interesting.

You know, the idea of a press pass is one of the greatest myths ever created. There is no single pass that allows a journalist entry into anywhere they need to go.

And the media don't have the power to serve warrants, either.

Journalists have no official powers in our role of public servant and/ or government watchdog.

Think about this: what if it was you? What if you and your pal were on vacation, shooting pics left and right, making the locals nervous with each photograph. Someone snaps a frame of you and you wind up on the local news with a chyron that reads, "THESE DUDES ARE TERRORISTS."

The next day, your boss cans you, your girlfriend leaves you, the banks freeze your cash and people cross the street when they see you.

How you liking that money making journalist now?

Legally, the media outlets had every right to run the pictures since the FBI made an official request. The ethics of running the image are a bit murky.

While we have an obligation to society to provide a service, we also have a duty to serve the public with compassion. That's what makes situations like this so difficult.

- George (the teacher)

Anonymous said...
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John d. said...

Heh, your right George, i didn't realy consider all the implications like that. When i said a warrent, i wasn't speaking in an official manner; i was more thinking metaphoricaly. Like how a police station gathers enough evidence to bring the person in for questioning or to search private property. Couldn't the publishers of this photograph feel that the FBI has enough evidence to at least talk to them? Plus it isn't like their names were published or anything of the ilk, just two unassuming guys looking over a rail. They could always deny that it is them and that certaintly wouldn't be enough for such major life changes to occur because u simple *resemble* a dude in a photo.

Geo said...

I have a good friend who is of Mexican heritage, but he actually looks Middle Eastern. He gets frustrated and annoyed because ever since 9/11, people snap at him all the time. They call him a terrorist.

Publishing names with the picture would be way worse, but the image alone has power as well. It probably opens the field of those potentially implicated: the FBI isn't saying that John Doe and his buddy are dangerous. The FBI are saying that people who look like these dudes are suspicious.

Appearances alone can have influence.

- George (the teacher)

Anonymous said...

I agree with James Riggio. I don’t think the FBI should have passed the photo onto the newspaper just because they were curious about two men. They should have carried out their own background check which I’m sure they’re capable of. These two men are now defaced and probably ashamed to be in public (if they are harmless) because of the label that every viewer of the picture now has of them. I also can’t help but think that the reason these two men were targeted was because of their race.
-Sarah Schu

Christina P said...

It would be acceptable to run this photo if and ONLY IF the forum printing it stressed that these men were not known terrorists or even known terror suspects. In order for it to be printed responsibly, it would need to include an objective explanation, free of bias or premature conclusions derived for the sole purpose of selling media.

Sarah Fry said...

Six years ago our nation was under attack, an unplanned strike that senselessly killed thousands of innocent people. We all know this and it is obvious to see when looking around that although Americans may have been pulled close together for a brief period of time we are now finding ourselves in the same distant routine, with a lack of trust that seemingly protects us from all harm. If we, as a nation, would open our eyes we would see that we were always in “danger” and will always be. This is not a code red emergency on the Richter scale of fear, but simply reality. There is not one place on American soil that is full proof, because there is no where on this planet that could be absolutely 100% secure from all evils. Terrorism is a monstrous ghost, having no shape, no distinction, and no single target. Americans loom under the umbrella of fear, mistrust is our new best friend.

Although these men were allegedly on six different ferry rides taking pictures of doors and ignoring the ever squawking seagull it does not make them a terrorist. I saw no bomb strapped to their waist and they weren’t even wearing their “I’m in the Terrorist-Club, catch me if you can” shirt. Well, maybe there really isn’t a terrorist club shirt. The point is, there is no way we can tell if someone is a terrorist or not. For the FBI it was responsible of them to look into a citizens concern about suspicious men, but doesn’t Seattle have police for that? The press has the right to publicly call out random guys and make them the enemy of everyone who watched the local news or read the newspaper but it is not ethical and not their job. Here’s the real question, what’s better for America: a false sense of safety in which everyone has the ability to publicly scrutinize fellow citizens, or the personal freedom we all have as our natural right to live in peace without the worry that joe nosey ferry will tell on us for acting “out of the ordinary”. For me, this answer is obvious. The risk of harm does not decrease when society ostracizes it’s members, in many cases we are making our selves look even worse.

Madison Carter said...

In my opinion the FBI are violating the civil liberties of these men. I believe that the only reason why the FBI are suspicious is because of the men's physical appearance.