Grim image II

I received this note from a reader today regarding this photo’s appearance on Page A5 Saturday:
“Today’s paper is troubling. On the main page there is an article talking about the Iraq civilian deaths blamed on the United States. That isn’t the issue, the issue is that you have a picture of dead bodies on the continued story, two of which are young children. Displaying dead children in a community newspaper is not acceptable, and I am greatly disappointed in the News Sentinel for printing this disturbing photograph. If a American child was killed would you show its lifeless body in a large county newspaper? I do not think so. A explanation for this is appreciated.”
This was my response:
“Thank you for your note. We very much appreciate the feedback. We did not make the decision to run that photo lightly. We realize that anytime we publish a photo of a dead body we risk offending readers, doubly so if the photo is of children. Yet we also believe it is wrong to shield readers from all horrifying images involving issues of public policy. Because of the seriousness of the accusations involved in this and the related cases in Iraq, we decided to include the photo with our coverage on an inside page of the paper. I believe we would make the same decision if the child were American, though I cannot think of circumstances under which we would do the same if the child were local and friends or loved ones might recognize the face.”
I also asked the reader if we could use the note as a Readers Corner comment on Page A2. I’m awaiting a response.
Some editors completely ban photos of dead bodies. That has never seemed right to me. But when and how to publish such grim images is certainly a judgment call on which reasonable people might disagree.

7 thoughts on “Grim image II

  1. Laura

    It is a horrible image to see, but I thank you for at least not putting it on the front page. I cant tell you how many times I have seen a newspaper with a grizely front page photo and wondered about the sensative or young viewer who would see it in a rack or on a stand and not want to. If the editors believe it is news worthy and tells a story the least they can do is as you did in this case and that is to put it inside where only those who purchase the paper and know things such as that may be beyond the cover will see it.

  2. Nelle

    Slightly off the subject, but still Iraq-related: What’s with this line from the first Letter to the Editor in today’s paper: “Too many lives have been lost — more than 2,400 U.S. troops and more than 4,000 Iraq citizens, police officers and military personnel.”
    Four thousand? I hope that’s a typo. Iraq Body Count estimates a range between 38,000 and 42,000, based on an actual count of Iraqi deaths, while the Lancet, based on statistical sampling, comes up with a much higher number.

  3. Jack McElroy

    The 4,000 figure may well be a typo. We went back to the original letter, and that’s what it said, but the writer may have made a mistake. Coincidentally, we have another letter running tomorrow that uses the 40,000 figrue.

  4. Terry

    Telling the truth seems to be called trashing American efforts a lot today if the truth does not go along with the current administrtions policies and programs. I guess we are headed back to the days when people with legitimate differences became “fellow travelers” in the 50’s or pinkos in 60’s so on and so on. Disagreement, no, strong disagreement, with this Administrations actions does not make this 60 year old veteran any less an American or love my country any less. I know that there is only One so great that He cannot make mistakes.

  5. Arlis

    I do not know about Steve H, but I am a 73 year old veteran of Korea and I can tell you that I feel that even the small piece of the Chinese Commie shrapnel that I still carry in my leg gives me the right to complain about the “fellow travelers” that have been around since the 50’s and still trash our American efforts.

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