Bad Stuff Happens: So What’s the Right Way to Cover It?

In times of crisis, disaster or war, what’s the right way to present images that represent the situation without falling into sensationalism? With the unauthorized filming and leaking of the execution of Saddam Hussein and the ongoing conflict in Iraq and other parts of the world, this question is one that perpetually engenders debate.

In a post on the blog BAGnewsNotes, Chris Maynard says this of the photograph accompanying a New York Times article of a young American medic holding the bullet that wounded a platoon member in Iraq:

It personalizes the war in a very brutal way; all one can see is the bullet and the red hand in a shaft of sunlight inside the armored vehicle. But the slug itself is devoid of personality, just a nasty remnant of a far nastier argument far from the battlefield. This particular bullet seems to grow bigger every time we go back for another look. It is an excruciating image to look at simply because there are none of the usual veils, none of the layers of distraction so often seen in newspapers today. It is simply a bullet that tore through the head of a young man who is not old enough to legally purchase a drink in America.

So — where to go for guidance on dealing with images that might appear shocking to some? The journalism bible Poynter Online offers a comprehensive list of must-read resources.

[tags]photography, photo blog, shocking images, andrea weckerle[/tags]

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