This photo of Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, having just received the leg wounds that he would die from, has caused an intense debate on the publication of such images. The story is detailed by:
- Greg Mitchell at the Huffington Post and Editor & Publisher;
- "Behind the Scenes: To Publish or Not," at Lens, a video journalism blog at the NYT;
- The original AP story, "The Death of One Marine in Afghanistan";
- The accompanying AP story about the decision to publish the photo; and
- An AP story on the controversy.
I completely support the AP's decision to publish the photo. In my opinion, the right (and need) of the public to understand the costs of war supersedes the right of the family to prevent the publication of the photo. I am not advocating a blanket approval to publish all such photos. But I am generally in favor of publishing more of these photos. The New York Times had a story about the censorship of graphic war images in July of 2008, "4,000 U.S. Deaths, and a Handful of Images." The Public Editor discussed the decision to publish the photos soon afterward, "The Painful Images of War."
Also, it should be understood that it is a minor miracle that the photographer captured this image. Our media will not be drowned in gore if a more liberal publishing stance is taken.
LINKS: Greg Mitchell follows up and posts a comment from one of the few editors nationwide to have printed the photo in his newspaper, the Merced Sun-Star in California.
Explanation from the Dallas Morning News on why they ran the photo, a small black and white version, inside their paper.