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
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
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.
Best Syndication Staff Writer