Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The picture of the Dutch child...

...who appears to be the lone survivor of an airplane crash in Libya is now being spread all over the world.

For example, you can access ABC News' story of the crash and the accompanying photo here.

But here's my question -- SHOULD the photo have been released? At the end of the day, this is a question of ethics, and for some help on this consider the National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics.

The 4th item on the list deserves special attention. It reads:

Treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.

So, here's our dilemma -- a child, tethered to various medical equipment and obviously bruised, is now the face of an airplane crash. Should he be?

As a (former) journalist and (current) journalism educator, I am inclined to fall on the side of "release the information." The need for a journalist to report the truth supersedes all other considerations. Call it a bias if you wish, but the photo of the child ought to be news.

It is not graphic. It doesn't in anyway demean or embarrass him. It assists us in understanding the story of what happened on a Wednesday in Libya's capital city.

It is, in short, news.

1 comment:

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