I read an article today in the BBC about "picturing disaster". It is a blog talking about the value of photojournalism. It notes that there have been complaints about the photos shown of Haiti and of Haitians themselves. The author, Phil Coomes, argues that although the photos can be gruesome, they are the truth. It reminds me of another opinion article I read in the Independent. Both views are in complete contrast of the other. I tend to lean toward Andy Kershaw's view in the Independent.
If Britain suffered a major catastrophe, do you think they would show the same images they do of the Haitians? Do you think they'd show a young women being pulled from rubble, dress ripped showing her privates, her upper thigh, or a snotty-nose without her consent? Or do we only show these images because they are foreign, black, and savage-like ... or better yet, because they can't complain? We don't see images of British soldiers brutally killed in muddy trenches. We don't see soldiers with one leg blown off after being injured or killed by a road-side bomb. That would be offensive to the country and to their family who wants to remember them as they were in their prime. Is photojournalism really about seeing the truth? I have a feeling it's more about evoking emotion, when appropriate (and that's when no one has the power to protest it).
I personally detest this "Fox News" approach to journalism. It is more about evoking emotion than it is reporting. It, to me, shows a lack of class. It's not that I want to be censored, I just want the people in these images to be respected. If the photos are taken and later the consent is given by the individuals, why not publish them at a later date? I, for one, don't want a photo taken of me with drool down my face, a bald patch from hair ripped out of my head, my t-shirt slipped up showing my tummy and belly fat, etc. It's not insecurity, it's just indecent. It's not who I am and it doesn't represent me. It shows me as a victim; a poor, helpless pet.