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Is the American Press Afraid?

July 7th 2005


There has been a myriad of pictures from Iraq in recent years.  Many of the images depict the horror of war, and others have depicted the compassion of our troops.  Analysts have reported that very few of the horrific pictures have made it to our eyes.  Why is that?

There may be some reasonable non-sinister reasons for this.  Editors want to be absolutely certain they understand the context with which the pictures were taken.  Recently there was a shocking picture that made it to the press, supposedly depicting an atrocity in Iraq.  As it turned out, to some of the editor’s chagrin, the pictures were not from Iraq at all.  They were from Afghanistan, and the context was in error. 

The above reason does not explain why more of the verifiable images do not appear in our press.  According to Chris Hondros, a photographer for Getty Images, many of the unacceptable images appear in the European press. Do the Europeans have stronger stomachs?


In May, the Los Angeles Times released a survey revealing how few photographs of wounded or dead American service members in Iraq were appearing in U.S. publications. According to Editor and Publisher Magazine, Newspaper editors seemed to agree that one primary obstacle was logistical

The Times’ surveyed six months of news coverage and found no pictures of Americans killed in action.  During that time period 559 Americans and Western Allies were killed in action.  The publications ran just 44 photos from Iraq to represent the thousands of Westerners wounded.

There are other possible reasons.  Maybe editors fear being labeled unpatriotic if they publish the offending pictures.  Editors are obliged to wait for the next of kin to notified.  Even after this, they rarely run the images.

Moises Saman, a longtime photographer for Newsday, has speculated that their may be a double standard.  Many Americans understand we are at war but “not many people want to see the real consequences, especially when they involve one of your own.”  Many Publishers do not want to anger subscribers.

The exact reason may not be clear, but participating reporters want the story to be told.  An important part of the story is the picture. 

By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer







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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Sunday, July 11, 2010 01:18 AM