Monday, September 7, 2009

Death in The Afternoon (But Not in Print).

AN AMERICAN SOLDIER killed in Afghanistan was photographed by an Associated Press photographer in the moments after grenades bombarded American troops.

The Associated Press distributed the image around the world, accompanied by a story about the incident.

Few media outlets chose to publish the image, however. The argument: some outlets said that it was disrespectful to the military, and to that particular soldier's family specifically.

Would you have run the image?

(By the way, the image above is by Robert Capa. It is of a Republican soldier killed during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Capa, considered among the greatest war photographers, once said, "If your pictures aren't good enough, then you're not close enough.")

17 comments:

Dan Housch said...

I would have run the picture, mainly because of the mainstream's media coverage of both the Iraq and Afghanistan war to this point. They are too concerned with presenting offensive images that they leave us with a filtered view of war. We do not see the brutal reality of war, which is portrayed by the image of this fallen American soldier. During the Vietnam War the American public was presented with a live horrific picture of what was occurring every day. This made the war really strike home and was a factor in fueling such a large anti war movement. Today however, the war in Iraq or Afghanistan doesn’t even rate as the top news story.

nancy arroyo said...

I would have used the photo because what is a good article without an interesting picture. Also, the media hides too much information from us anyway. It may do us some good to know what is going on the other side. This photo make actually help stop the war especially since the war is unnecessary

Sina said...

I would only run the image after I contacted the decease soldier's family and got their permission to do so. We can't choose what we believe is what's best for the world to see. However, we can choose to show the world if we get the information the right way. It is understandable that such a raw image like this would be beneficial in putting what's going on in a war up in the forefront, but respect is dying and I refuse to pull the plug.

Geo said...

To those who would run the image: what if it was a member of your family who was photographed in his/ her dying moments? Would you want to see that?

To those who think about the family: do they have a right to decide what images the media uses? Are they allowed to control the information, and the message?

- George
(the teacher who wants you to see all sides of the difficult question)

nancy arroyo said...

If it was a member of my family I would want to see that. It might make me sad but at the same time proud. I would be sad because it's a dead member of my family. Iwould be proud because they died for a noble cause and it will show families everywhere who have family members in the war what is going on. For some this may seem disturbing, but i see it as a passage of life. And if you're kept in the dark about these things, i feel you are worse off.

Dan Housch said...

If I had a family member photographed in such a way, I personally would not want to see it. However I hope that I would understand that the photographer has the right to publish it, and the consumer the right to view it. Especially in cases of war, when this type of picture conveys so much. The photograph shown taken during the Spanish Civil War is key component of our understanding of that war 70 years on. Instead of an archive of Spanish soldiers marching off to fight the good war, we can see the reality of the conflict.

Lisa Jiang said...

I read about this the other day. I wouldn't have used the photo unless his family members all agreed it would be alright. The picture is sort of personal and I wouldn't want a picture of my loved one, just before she or he dies, shown for the whole world to see. Imagine how it'd make the soldier's family feel when they see their family member all over the newspaper, being constantly reminded of his/her death.

Geo said...

OK. So you wouldn't use the image if it offended the family in some way.

Does the photographer have the right to create the image, and the wire service the right to distribute it? And if they distribute it, do newspapers, magazines, TV stations, online outlets and other media have the right to show the image?

- George
(the inquiring teacher who wants to get to the root of the situation)

Sina Snoeu said...

I believe the family has a right to decide what the media uses when they have a direct relationship to the "information". When they surrender such a picture to the public, I'm sure they know how the image would be perceived. I don't think giving permission for its use changes or controls the message in particular. Yes, the people may need the story to be informed, but any time can do for the consumer. In all honesty, they will probably never constantly think about that soldier's image. But, it's the soldier's family that will have to live with their loss for a lifetime so on their time seems only right.
This is a very difficult question and I do always try to see it from all sides. It's the only way we can truly understand in my opinion. But... if I see one side just makes more sense then the other, (and not on my terms, just as a whole) I will state and defend.

Aleks said...

Homeland support wins a war...at least for the United States it's proved true so far. Don't believe it? The Revolution, Spanish-American, and both World Wars: what did they share as common factors?

Public support, propaganda in favor of the US despite what the front lines were really like, and we won.

On the flip side: public support for Vietnam dropped like a stone when the public found out about the real atrocities of war and we've been limping along as a nation both at home and abroad ever since.

Sometimes the truth isn't good enough. In this case, the statement is true. I would not have run the image.

Don Hoegg said...

The media should be sensitive to the wishes of the family when possible, but when it comes down to it, they're under no obligation to get anyone's permission (except at the mortuary in Dover, Delaware, where it's the family's choice to allow photographers)

If I had been the editor, I would've worked to find a similar picture of a different soldier whose family would've approved. If that weren't possible, I would have printed the picture. If public support can't be garnered for a war without withholding information, then maybe the war shouldn't be fought.

Christopher Babcock said...

There are ways of going about touchy things like this. The family should be notified because of its sensitive and personal nature. Also, some media outlets had the option of posting it or not, reflecting their views on the subject of graphic war media. Worse things have been shown on TV, most from the Vietnam War. For instance, the video of the suspected Viet Cong prisoner being executed was broadcast worldwide and the photographer won a Pulitzer Prize for the photo. Atrocities happen in every war but the folks at home were never aware of it until the widespread media coverage of Vietnam and now with the conflicts in the Middle East. If the public doesn't want to know or see what's going on then they have to think, do they want journalists covering any war or not. I think many want to know what's happening.

Jazaida Hall said...

I feel that this particular picture is a little much to be put out publically. Thinking of the family affected and having to see the second or moment in time that a loved one's life was ended is hard to cope with and especially when its frozen in time- a photograph sent out to the world. I understand people need to see what's going on but the nature of the photo can be touchy.- Jazaida Hall

Wafai Dias said...

I think that the picture is disrespectful to the military and to the soldier's family. However, I would still run the image because if society as a whole looks at the picture, gets disturbed, and realizes "hey maybe we should withdraw from the war," then I think that it's okay to run the image. As long as society sees this picture I think that the majority would walk away with a better understanding of why the country should withdraw from war instead of how offensive it is to the family and military; in which it is offensive but the people have a right to see where their tax money is going, because after all the government uses the "peoples" money in war, that said the "people" do have a right to see this image. I would publish this image for society.

Angela Mayo said...

Good morning! I was thinking about this blog post, and I remembered a famous picture taken by Kevin Carter. "Wanting a Meal" was an award winning photograph, but it also received a lot of criticism. Below is the link for the image, and story behind it, and the effect it had on Carter. I am curious to see what people think. It really does push the meaning of ethics behind photojournalism.
There is a major difference between the two photographs. In the case of Carter, he had the opportunity to help, or even save, the girl. In the case if the picture mentioned in the blog, the photographer did not have the choice to save the soldier.
http://www.flatrock.org.nz/topics/odds_and_oddities/ultimate_in_unfair.htm

Christopher Babcock said...

This is an interesting story I saw on Yahoo, given that it was brought up in class and some had questions of the aftermath. (Vietnam photo of Napalm kids)
http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20090910/hl_hsn/girliniconicvietnamwarphotobringsmessageofhope

Megan said...

I would not have run it. To think that one day I was waiting for a train and saw a row of papers with my son or my brother's face on it, showing him being killed, we devastate me. That's some way to find out he died. It is so close that you can actually recognize who it is if you knew him. I think it's just wrong to do that to a family.