Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How to Cover War

I want your opinion on the following matter. An Associated Press photographer posted photos she had taken while covering the war overseas. One photo showed a marine who had been killed in action. The family asked that the photo not be distributed but the photographer and the AP felt it was their duty to show the true cost of war.

The story can be found by clicking here. The Commercial Appeal of Memphis was one paper that chose to display the photo. Does the press have a responsibility and duty to show these types of photos. During the Bush Administration, photographers were banned from taking photos on the incoming coffins of soldiers being flown back to the states. Many complained that Bush was trying to hide the negative side of War with his ban. What do you think?

Again, please sign your posts at the end with your name. Many of you share first names and i can't tell who some people are (for example, Kamryn'sMom).


Glenda said...

I do not think that the press has the right to post this picture. To print/expose the picture is not taking into account the pain being felt by the family and it certainly does not acknowledge it. I feel for the family who had possibly seen the photo prior to being notified of his death. I do not think this is a matter or content as much as it is of respect. I think the general public is aware of the potential outcome of war, including death. But it is not their responsibility to put it out for the world to view.

I have been through this....my baby sister (15 yrs younger) was abducted and brutally raped/murdered in 1998. I know that if someone had taken a picture of her in the state/condition she was found I would probably hunt them down! The family has the right to post a picture most likely with the obituary, not the press. In my view, this is no different than posting porno/indecent pictures on other community sites.

Alexis K. Ellis said...

I think the press does have a responsibility and duty to show these types of photos of those killed because it does show the true reality of life at war. However, I do not feel it is good for the families of the victims to see these photos, so my thoughts on this matter are in between. I think to tell a realistic story there are not always going to be a positive image; war is violent, and I think people should know the truth. However, these photos can be traumatic to families left behind, so I think that if I had a choice I would not use the photos, but ultimately I think the photo makes war a violent reality come forth, which is oftentimes violent deaths.
-Alexis K. Ellis

Sherry Osborn said...

In my opinion I believe that there should be a law that the Associated Press should have the get the familie's consent before exposing a picture of a loved one who has been murdered or mutilated.
The Press can still show the "true cost of war" without exposing pictures of dead soldiers for the world to see.

Society should have more compassion and respect for one another than this.

I have to say that this is an absolute outrage! This makes me very angry, and this is why I do not watch the news or read newspapers. The majority of the media is full of garbage that could remain to be unseen or unheard.
I will put this family on my prayer list tonight and pray for God to calm their hearts and minds from this tragedy.

I will probably learn more about the media and the world from this class.

Sherry Osborn

Sherry Osborn said...


I am so sorry to hear about your younger sister! What a tragedy! I hope to God that they found the person that did that to her.
If not, I will say another prayer tonight for her justice. What is her name?

God Bless!
Sherry Osborn

gina said...

I would have to agree with Glenda. I do not think that the press has the right to post these photos. There is no way to ban the photographers from taking pictures overseas because that would just be too much ground to cover and too much trouble. I do realize that it is the photographers job to take pictures to go with their stories and let people actually see what is going on, however, I just think that out of respect to the families, the pictures should not be shown. Especially since the family had specifically asked for the picture not to be published I do not think it should have been. I do agree with Alexis too though that it is kind of an in between feeling because showing these types of pictures really do show you the whole reality of the story. But I feel like people do know how real it is over there. I also agree with Sherry that a good idea would be to get the consent of the family in order to be able to publish a photo like that.

As far as the banning of photographers during the Bush Administration, I am a little in between on this subject too. I feel like it would be a let down if everyone saw the bodies coming back to the states. Not just seeeing the number of bodies but knowing that these people had lost their lives protecting ours. I could also see how Bush wouldnt want people to see how many people we were losing over there to make us think that we were doing better than we actually were. It could definately just be a combination of the two. It's not hurting anyone by not seeing the bodies but it would hurt people seeing them. So there is really no reason for the pictures to be taken in the first place.

gina said...

Sorry the above posting was mine!

Mary (Gina) Sharp

Glenda said...

Sherry, I thank you for your prayers. The murderer was killed in a gun battle with the police after he had killed his neighbors, an elderly couple taking out their trash. Very sad.

Victoria said...

Wow. This is a tough one. On the one hand, you have the need for the true reality of the war to be revealed to the public. Then on the other, you have the families and other loved ones of the fallen soldiers to consider. Unfortunately, this war has become a forgotten war for much of this nation. Of course, those who have friends and family fighting and those who have lost loved ones think about the risks and consequences daily. But, for many, the war is a distant issue. It has been going on for so long, and we've been hearing about it for so long that we've really forgotten about it. We've gone about our daily lives. Images like these bring the sacrifices back into the forefront of our minds.

For the family, this must be a very difficult situation. I agree with Glenda. I would hate to know that the family didn't get a chance to see these photos before they were published. (Not saying this is in fact what happened.) Maybe that is the answer. Maybe controversial photos like these should be shown to the family first and have them decide.

~Victoria L. Carr

Michael said...

It's a tragedy when one of our men or women dies overseas. It's also a tragedy that pictures like this are released against the will of the fallen soldier's family. I read one comment on how "the press does have a responsibility and duty to show these types of photos of those killed because it does show the true reality of life at war." My response to this argument is that Americans, especially Americans, know the true cost and reality of war. It's not a video game where there are 2nd chances. While not all of us are on the front line, we know that people are being shot at and bombed daily. It's an ugly truth. It's also the truth that our national leaders deem it necessary for us to be over there for the time being. For this reason, our soldiers are a part of something that is bigger than themselves. Because of this, I feel they deserve the respect to have loved one's decide the fate of such photos and other forms of media.

Our society must be visually stimulated. Whether it's with explosives, neon colors, attractive women, shocking photos, etc. Every website and newspaper has to find the best way to be visually appealing (or appaling). That's the real reasons photos like this are released. Ratings are increased by shock appeal in most cases.

Michael Jared Koon

KamrynsMom said...

First of all, I think that the Associated Press should not have ran the photograph, nor should they have passed it along to other newspaper presses. Although I am not in favor of hiding the costs and sacrifices of the war, I am in fact in favor to honoring a family's wishes. I think that the Associated Press should publicly apologize to the family because they were out of line. Secondly, the press does have the responsibility to show the types of photos, IF the family is okay with them running the pictures of their families.

I do not think that the war is something that should be hidden from anyone. There is in fact a terrible war going on, and if we never get to see just how terrible things are then how will we know. Have you ever heard the saying, "Don't believe everything you hear?" Well, a picture to me is worth more than a thousand words, but it has to be for the right reasons, not just to make money or defy someone or something. But, to show the world what we are up against. Everything is not pretty, and we as Americans, need to be made aware of that from time to time. We complain, but look at the many people who are being brutally killed fighting for our country. How can we fight each other, and have so much hate in our hearts for our fellow citizens after seeing all the people who have fell victim to this war. After all is said, how can we still remain so divided when we clearly see(not hear about) what is going on in Afghanistan on the front lines of this war?

Nateisha Marchbanks

Dianna Majors said...

I agree with many of the comments previously made in the sense that I don't think it is necessarily the duty of the press to post such abhorrent photos. However, I also don't think it should be a privilage banned for the media as they are one of greatest resources for our freedom of speech. I believe there is an ethical way to balance this conflict of interest.
I believe there are news and feature stories that would benefit from the addition of a heart wrentching photograph. However, if someone were to use such a picture as the mentioned in the blog, I absolutely feel that they press should have to get consent. I feel that there is a clear enough line between what is a personal photographic and what is public domain for the media to know what they needed to get permission to use. In some cases, I am sure the family would not mind or would even encourage a personal picture being published. I know families with sons overseas that complain that non-military families do not understand their pain and do not understand the truth of war. If something happened and it was captured on film I believe they would certainly allow it to be published so that others may get a better picture of what war is really like.
I do not agree with the previous ban placed by President Bush on photos of war, because it is absolutely an infringement on our right to free speech. With that said, our society would be lost without compassion and understanding for one other and those are traits our media should exemplify.


Mark said...

The press has the right to show the photo and obligation. War has a terrible cost that I don't think is appreciated by the general public. Not since WWII has anyone in America (outside the military) been asked to sacrifice for the good of the country. I think journalists are obligated to show photos and write stories that show that ugly human cost of war. Journalists should consider themselves as a guardian of democracy. An unknowing public is a dangerous thing in that it lets governments, corporations, etc. get away with whatever they want. Although the dead soilder is trageic and I feel for the family. His photo, just like the photos of flag covered caskets can be a powerful tool in ending war.
Mark Stephenson

Sherry Osborn said...


I'm so glad that the monster got what he deserved. Although it is sad about the elderly couple.

Sherry Osborn

chapman said...

War has a price and the pictures show that price, our soldiers. My heart goes out to these families but being objective on this subject we as the American people should take the time and investagate why are we fighting and then make our choice to support or or not to support the war, not an emmotional decsion because of some picture showing our fallen soldier, They are all our family so we need to know is their lives lost for something meaningful or not.
Chapman Brown

Jemmye said...

I think the press has a responsibilty to show these pictures. News is sometimes tragic but it is a reality, and we as American have a right to know the truth. I think the families should be warned prior to printing of the pictures to prepare themselves.

I want to be a journalist, so Im going to side with a journalist on this issue becasue I would want to publsih the picture or show the video if I came across breaking news. I have respect for the famalies, but it's part of the business.

David Camp said...

I would not have run the photo simply because the parents asked that it not be done. I don’t believe it is censorship of the media if the parents ask this, simply respect for the parent’s wishes. The matter as to what is censorship isn’t the issue I believe it is what people see as honorable for the fallen. The press honors the soldiers by trying to get their stories to an audience. The photographers and journalist that are embedded with soldiers have a responsibility to do their jobs just as the soldiers do. They rely on these soldiers to look after them to an extent and I don’t think they would do anything to dishonor them.

I feel it is the press’s job to report exactly what it sees, good or bad. I believe the AP photographer did her job well and conveyed her message to everyone that read the story. The press is allowed to show the other side in gruesome detail, why should we not see that Americans also die. She not only shows that Marines are people just like us but that these same people will die for others. If this story had just shown Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard in his uniform and mentioned he died would anybody remember. This photo and story has everyone thinking about if it should be posted or not but bottom line everybody knows this Marine and how he died.

David Camp

Mary said...

I think that press should be able to show those types of photos because it shows how war is. I think that the press should ask the families for consent to use those types of photos. The press should only show the photos if they have permission. If they do not have permission then they should not use the photos. If the press shows the photos without consent need to get in some type of trouble for it.
I don’t know where I stand about the ban that Bush’s administration. I think it was good in a way but did not let people know the truth. I think it was bad for the same reason. There is death in war and people need to realize it.

Mary said...

That is my post above sorry
Mary Thomas

Arnetta Buckhalter said...

This decision requires a lot of thinking and consideration. I am kind of stuck in the middle of yes and no. I think the media has the right to post this picture. Many people are blind to the severity of this war, the war that wouldn't even last a year. This picture is not to humiliate the family members of this honored soldier, but to show the US the dedicated people we have working for us. We should appreciate our country. Of course, Bush would ban these photos because it will make him look even worse. If this war is of great cause whats wrong with televising soldier that died honoring their country.

For the family, I hate that they losed a love one. I know it can be traumatizing. My question to the family is, Will you fell the same way if this picture is placed in a history book in five years? If looking at the picture is too much then you have the option of not watching the news and not searching for it on the internet. I don't think the picture should be aired before the family was notified about the death, but it not so wrong to air the picture. Anchors and journalist has a job to do!

~Arnetta Buckhalter~

Arnetta Buckhalter said...

This is a response to Michael Koon. You have a great post, but I disagree with some of your statements. You are definite right that this is not a video game and you do not get a second chance. Many people are ignore the war; they are concentrating on proclamations and other bills that make be passed soon. Photos like this should get this nation to stand as one and try to get things worked out so we can bring this controversial to an end, because the soldiers that are killed, badly injured, or even drove insane can not have a 2nd chance on life.

I never remember a photo ever killing someone but if I am wrong please inform me. Soldiers love ones should be respected but the love ones are not the "hero" the dead soldier is.

jdg158 said...

I believe that the media should take into consideration the families and friends of the fallen soldiers. If the families consent to having certain pictures released then I don't see any problem in publishing them. The world needs to see what is going on during these wars and the graphic nature of some photos is only showing the harsh reality of the war.

The media has the right to publish photos and information as long as it does not endanger the lives of people fighting these wars. The billions of dollars in tax money that the United States has spent on these wars are being spent to protect our freedom. As a United States citizen I feel that I should have the right of knowing what is going on in the war zones through media stories and pictures.

Crystal said...

I believe that freedom of the press can be taken a little too far sometimes. I do think that the right to print the picture is upheld by that ammendment, however, I feel that the particular photographer should have taken into high account the wishes of the family. To go ahead and choose to release the picture is heartless and cold. I'd like to ask that photographer what would he do if the tables were turned and it was a member of his own family?

I believe that there are plenty of other ways to show the cost of war instead of particularly posting a picture of one of the deceased soldiers. I don't believe that choosing to censor what type of picture is published is in any way trying to cover up the negative side of war. It is just showing a sense of good taste.

Crystal Sloan

Sherry Osborn said...

I disagree! We all know the realities of war, and we don't need a picture of a slain soldier to be reminded of it.
The media is going to do WHATEVER it takes to sell, and I believe they will do it at any cost. It's all about the money....the root of all evil!
You have to turn the situation around as if it were you in that person's situation. Would you want pictures of your dead brother or relative posted for the whole world to see? Absolutely not!

burnham_tj said...

I do not see where anything is gained by publishing the photo of a slain soldier. Everyone knows that soldiers being killed is a part of war. Photos are not necessary to drive the point home. Newspapers appear to be a dying breed and they will do whatever it takes to make a sale. This is especially tragic when the family has requested to not have the photo shown. A loved one's wishes should be honored, especially when it involves one of the brave men or women fighting overseas.
TJ Burnham

Travis_Page said...

No!, the press should not be allowed to post pictures of men that have lost their lives in the line of duty. They are not simply a statistic that can be published to show the 'true side of war.' It needs to be understood that these men/women have families and are not just objects of war. The only way that pictures of dead soldiers should be published is after the family has been notified and ONLY if they say it is okay to do so.
Travis Page

anj41 said...

I can understand the responsibility that the press has in telling a story, however,
when I first heard about this story, I really thought about how I would feel if my husband or my son was the fallen soldier. It is very true that a picture is worth a thousand words, and I can understand that the journalists felt that the picture conveyed the message they were hoping to send about the war. However, I do not think that it was just of them to post it without having the consent of the soldier's family. If the family had of given them the ok, then great. But knowing that they did not want the picture posted and publishing it anyway is apalling to me.

I can completely understand why during the Bush Administration photographers were banned from taking photos of the incoming coffins of soldiers being flown back to the states. Although many may have complained that Bush was trying to hide the negative side of War with his ban I think that he was being considerate of the families of the soldiers. There are other ways to communicate to others that we have lost a tremendous amount of lives due to the war without showing pictures of coffins. Where is the decency in this?!