They've gone too far

Discussion in 'SitRep' started by RabidAlien, Sep 4, 2009.

  1. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    Gates: AP decision 'appalling' - Yahoo! News

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates is objecting “in the strongest terms” to an Associated Press decision to transmit a photograph showing a mortally wounded 21-year-old Marine in his final moments of life, calling the decision “appalling” and a breach of “common decency.”

    The AP reported that the Marine’s father had asked – in an interview and in a follow-up phone call — that the image, taken by an embedded photographer, not be published.

    The AP reported in a story that it decided to make the image public anyway because it “conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it.”

    The photo shows Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard of New Portland, Maine, who was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush Aug. 14 in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan, according to The AP.

    Gates wrote to Thomas Curley, AP’s president and chief executive officer. “Out of respect for his family’s wishes, I ask you in the strongest of terms to reconsider your decision. I do not make this request lightly. In one of my first public statements as Secretary of Defense, I stated that the media should not be treated as the enemy, and made it a point to thank journalists for revealing problems that need to be fixed – as was the case with Walter Reed."

    “I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard’s death has caused his family. Why your organization would purposefully defy the family’s wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right – but judgment and common decency.”

    The four-paragraph letter concluded, “Sincerely,” then had Gates’ signature.

    The photo, first transmitted Thursday morning and repeated Friday morning, carries the warning, “EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT.”

    The caption says: “In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 14, 2009, Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard is tended to by fellow U.S. Marines after being hit by a rocket propelled grenade during a firefight against the Taliban in the village of Dahaneh in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Bernard was transported by helicopter to Camp Leatherneck where he later died of his wounds.”

    Gates’ letter was sent Thursday, after he talked to Curley by phone at about 3:30 p.m. Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Gates told Curley: “I am asking you to reconsider your decision to publish this graphic photograph of Lance Corporal Bernard. I am begging you to defer to the wishes of the family. This will cause them great pain.”

    Curley was “very polite and willing to listen,” and send he would reconvene his editorial team and reconsider, Morrell said. Within the hour, Curley called Morrell and said the editors had reconvened but had ultimately come to the same conclusion.

    Gates “was greatly disappointed they had not done the right thing,” Morrell said.

    The Buffalo News ran the photo on page 4, and the The (Wheeling, W.Va.) Intelligencer ran an editorial defending its decision to run the photo. Some newspapers – including the Arizona Republic, The Washington Times and the Orlando Sentinel – ran other photos from the series. Several newspaper websites – including the Akron Beacon-Journal and the St. Petersburg Times – used the photo online.

    Morrell said Gates wanted the information about his conversations released “so everyone would know how strongly he felt about the issue.”

    The Associated Press reported in a story about deliberations about that photo that “after a period of reflection,” the news service decided “to make public an image that conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it.

    “The image shows fellow Marines helping Bernard after he suffered severe leg injuries. He was evacuated to a field hospital where he died on the operating table,” AP said. “The picture was taken by Associated Press photographer Julie Jacobson, who accompanied Marines on the patrol and was in the midst of the ambush during which Bernard was wounded. … ‘AP journalists document world events every day. Afghanistan is no exception. We feel it is our journalistic duty to show the reality of the war there, however unpleasant and brutal that sometimes is,’ said Santiago Lyon, the director of photography for AP.

    “He said Bernard's death shows ‘his sacrifice for his country. Our story and photos report on him and his last hours respectfully and in accordance with military regulations surrounding journalists embedded with U.S. forces.’”

    The AP reported that it “waited until after Bernard's burial in Madison, Maine, on Aug. 24 to distribute its story and the pictures.”

    “An AP reporter met with his parents, allowing them to see the images,” the article says. “Bernard's father after seeing the image of his mortally wounded son said he opposed its publication, saying it was disrespectful to his son's memory. John Bernard reiterated his viewpoint in a telephone call to the AP on Wednesday. ‘We understand Mr. Bernard's anguish. We believe this image is part of the history of this war.

    The story and photos are in themselves a respectful treatment and recognition of sacrifice,’ said AP senior managing editor John Daniszewski.

    “Thursday afternoon, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called AP President Tom Curley asking that the news organization respect the wishes of Bernard's father and not publish the photo. Curley and AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said they understood this was a painful issue for Bernard's family and that they were sure that factor was being considered by the editors deciding whether or not to publish the photo, just as it had been for the AP editors who decided to distribute it.”

    The image was part of a package of stories and photos released for publication after midnight Friday. The project, called “AP Impact – Afghan – Death of a Marine,” carried a dateline of Dahaneh, Afghanistan, and was written by Alfred de Montesquiou and Julie Jacobson:

    “The U.S. patrol had a tip that Taliban fighters were lying in ambush in a pomegranate grove, and a Marine trained his weapon on the trees. Seconds later, a salvo of gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades poured out, and a grenade hit Lance Cpl. Joshua ‘Bernie’ Bernard. The Marine was about to become the next fatality in the deadliest month of the deadliest year of the Afghan war.”

    The news service also moved extensive journal entries AP photographer Julie Jacobson wrote while in Afghanistan. AP said in an advisory: “From the reporting of Alfred de Montesquiou, the photos and written journal kept by Julie Jacobson, and the TV images of cameraman Ken Teh, the AP has compiled ‘Death of a Marine,’ a 1,700 word narrative of the clash, offering vivid insights into how the battle was fought, and into Bernard's character and background. It also includes an interview with his father, an ex-Marine, who three weeks earlier had written letters complaining that the military's rules of engagement are exposing the troops in Afghanistan to undue risk.”


    *****************************************


    After the father specifically asked them NOT to transmit the photos, they did it anyway? WTF???:evil:
     
  2. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Well that's horrible they need to respect the family...
     
  3. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Let's translate some of the key comments from the media into real-world English:

    "Curley was “very polite and willing to listen” " - Curley: we'll run it anyway...

    "Curley said the editors had reconvened but had ultimately come to the same conclusion." - Curley: Ratings!

    "Santiago Lyon, the director of photography for AP said “He said Bernard's death shows ‘his sacrifice for his country. Our story and photos report on him and his last hours respectfully and in accordance with military regulations surrounding journalists embedded with U.S. forces.’ " - Lyon: Ratings!

    "AP senior managing editor John Daniszewski said “The story and photos are in themselves a respectful treatment and recognition of sacrifice.”" - Daniszewski: Ratings!

    "Santiago Lyon said ‘We feel it is our journalistic duty to show the reality of the war there, however unpleasant and brutal that sometimes is.’" - Lyon: I'd publish a photo of my mother with a sucking chest wound if I knew it would boost ratings...

    Bunch of a-holes...
     
  4. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    #4 vikingBerserker, Sep 4, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2009
    Fricken S***-Bags!


    I just sent them an e-mail asking if they were going to start publishing pictures of rape and murders in progress so help show the grimness of that as well.


    I think the Pentagon should ban the AP now.
     
  5. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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    Bunch of scumbags!
     
  6. proton45

    proton45 Member

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    #6 proton45, Sep 4, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2009
    Tragic...

    I'm curious what the history of printing photos like this is? I have seen Civil war photos of dead soldiers, and I have seen WW1 news reals showing our dead dying troops. Their are some pictures of WW2 soldiers I have seen but many of the more graphic photos ( the ones in which you can see faces clearly) where not published til more recently. Unfortunately the issue is very complicated... I do feel the American public has a right to be educated in the reality of modern warfare, but is it the job of the press to publicize such horrors? And what about the feelings of the family's concerned?

    We live in America and the foundation of our economy is capitalism, and that's the way we like it. The fact is that the government under Reagan Bush cut funding to public broadcasting. We want our press to be bound by the laws of economics, so can we really complain when they are compelled by such reality's? That understood one could ask the question: "Will these photo's be exploited for profit ?", and the answer is "probably yes". However I don't feel that all editors are cut-throat capitalists...their are many "editors in chief" who take the "news job" very seriously and see their job as a "public service". Frankly I'm surprised that photos of this nature have not made their way to the media already. This most recent war in Iraq Afghanistan has lasted almost 5 years now and we have seen very little in the way of graphic exploitation of the effects of war.

    Its sad that the war has gone on so long that the media feels that the public would be interested in seeing such photos...

    That said, I'll bet that in the end their are some editors that will choose NOT to run this photo...some will some will not. If you want to condemn the publishers that choose to run the photo, you should thank the publishers who don't. I would really hate to be wearing the shoes of the editor that had to make the decision of weather to run the pictures or not...
     
  7. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Matthew Brady was the first to photograph war dead and get them published to awaken the public to the horrors of war, which was very romanticized at the time of the Civil War. It generated a tremendous amount of controversy at the time.

    I am mixed on these kinds of photographs. As a freelance photographer and journalist myself, I understand the feeling of wanting to capture a moment. But I also feel that some moments, even if captured, should remain private. I have caught some gut-wrenching photos at memorial services that are moving and beautiful, but won't publish them out of respect for the families in their private moments.

    The part that does make me angry though is that the AP ran it against the wishes of the family. As a parent, I could not imagine seeing the final moments of my son's life splashed across newspapers across the nation. It is in poor taste and reflects poor judgment on the part of the AP. Public service or not, I worry about a society in which things like this happen.
     
  8. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    During WWII, there was a photograph of a U.S. marine that had fallen during a Pacific landing, and had washed ashore, face-down. When the photo was published, there was a huge objection to it...if I remember right, the photo was published in Life magazine.

    As it stands, there is such a large amount of subject matter the photographers can capture that reflects thier goal of "journalistic duty to show the reality of the war there, however unpleasant and brutal that sometimes is" without having to include Lance Cpl. Bernard in that "journalistic duty".
     
  9. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    THAT was the part that really ticked me off. I agree with Proton, that images of war as it really is should be shown so that the civilian population have a better understanding of what our troops go through and how much their freedom costs. BUT...this Marine's father expressed that he did NOT want the images shown. AP went beyond the lines of common decency and respect for the dead (as well as respect for those who are defending the freedoms they're trampling on).
     
  10. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Agreed. I would have expected better of the AP, but I guess that they are no better than any other of the mainstream media these days.
     
  11. Ferdinand Foch

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    Son of a!! If the news wants to show the horrors of war, that's fine, but not after the family said no! I wanna kick that editor's a@@, show him some personal "horrors" of war. Bloody scumbag! :evil: Sorry for the rant, I just find this very digusting.
     
  12. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    It all boils down to one thing, ratings and sell more news papers. On the other side of the coin, how come no one ever
    objected to photos showing dead German or Japanese soldiers ???? Do we have a double standard ??

    Now, this doesn't mean it's right. Especially after the parent requested the photo not be published.

    Charles
     
  13. proton45

    proton45 Member

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    I looked around the internet to see I could find the AP picture, and surprising enough its not really the easy to find (yet). I finally found it in the "St. Petersburg Times".

    The picture doesn't show a close-up of his "anguished face", although it is visible in a blurred kind of way. The photo shows him being tended to by his squad mates, and his face suggests a state of shock. The photo in itself is not a bloody shockfest...

    I wonder what would have happened if this photo had not been made into a "news event" in itself? I wonder what the impact of the photo would have been? Thrill seeker's who troll the internet looking for the next "gross-out" video/picture have already seen faaaaar worse then this photo...I seriously doubt that this photo will raise the ratings by much. I'll bet that most people who seek this photo out will be like me..."curious what all the talk is about".
     
  14. jamierd

    jamierd Member

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    The sad thing is a month from now noone will remember the dying marine except his close friends and family and the men he served with . he will just become another statastic another number in the ever growing list of servicemen killed in the line of duty .That is why forums like this where people care and understand (some of us from personal experience)are very important to keeping those memorys alive and in the minds of the world
     
  15. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    The problem with current war images is that the casualtiy rate is low enough that the identity of the sqauddie in almost any picture will be known but captioning it and printing the image gave no thought to the relitives at all. Although it pushes home better than 10,000 words the realitiy of the conflict this was a very heartless publication and as such deplorable. I just doubt that the public will show its disapproval by refusing to buy the paper as all news is fleeting and the public will be just as interested in the sports results on the back page by tomorrow
     
  16. proton45

    proton45 Member

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    Just for the sake of discussion...

    Whats the difference between printing pictures of crash victims or flood victims or any other "natural" disaster, and the printing of the soldiers picture? Do you remember the Oklahoma bombing...do you remember the picture of the fireman holding the baby? Someone here compared the picture of the soldier to printing a rape victims picture...Q; is it really the same thing? The rape victim is an innocent person who has been violated by a crazy f*cker, and the soldier is a professional who volunteered to do a job...does the soldier and his family have a special privilege (of respect) because he volunteered to serve in the military? Is the victim of a bombing or flood or earthquake entitled to the same considerations?

    Maybe its wrong to print any picture of a dying person...or maybe all is fair game?
     
  17. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    It is a fine line the AP is straddling. Unfortunately, pictures like this do bring home the realities of war. But it's at the cost of privacy for the family. At what point does the 1st amendment take precedent over privacy? And if families wishes take precedence over pictures being published, can anything controversial be shown in public?

    I dont think any mortal person could come to a just decision over this.
     
  18. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    No pictures of a wounded or dieing soldier should be posted until after the family has been notified. Even after that point, I am not sure if it should be printed at all. It is a very touchy situation. As Eric pointed out, I can understand where the journalist is coming from, but then the soldier in me says it is absolutely wrong to print such things.
     
  19. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    I figure that no matter what photo is printed, someone somewhere will be offended by it. What really gets me about this particular incident is that the AP guys got together and printed it anyway, after the father of the Marine asked them not to. That, to me, is so far over the line of decency that the line doesn't even show up on the map anymore.
     
  20. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    It's the shock value that plays on the public's morbid curiousity. And by saying morbid curiousity, I mean that same curiousity that causes people to slow down and look at car wrecks and gather to watch a building burn. The media knows how that works, and plays on it.

    The bar of decency has been lowering for years, as people get desensatized to scenes of violence that used to be socially unacceptable back in a time that even a photo showing a blanket covered body in the newspaper wasn't thought of.

    They didn't have to show the Corporal's photo. There's enough going on that they could have used images taken during the firefight, like the others returning fire, or images gathered in the vicinity, and then added the caption that the Marine was mortally wounded during the engagement, etc. Journalists have shown creativity like that in the past, and there's no reason why they shouldn't have this time out of respect to the Marine's family, especially after their expressed wishes.

    Not sure where society is headed, but when the media casts off all morals under the thinly veiled guise of "the people need to know" with little public objection, then what's next?
     
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