Should news organizations publish graphic images, or should they stay on the safe side of caution, and withhold them? This debate is one that has been stirred up by the recent jarring images presented in the media, regarding natural disasters and war. The controversy centers around the questions; are this images to disturbing to share through the media, or should the media report on the reality of the situation without diluting it. While the idea that reporters maintain the ethical practices to deliver the truth, they also maintain the ethical practices of taste. Photojournalists who cover war and disasters confront situations, which may shock the sensitivities of their audiences. The ethical issue still remains, how far should one risk shocking an audience’s sensitivities in order to correctly and fully report on the truth. However, no code of ethics can prejudge every situation, thus common sense and good judgment is always required in applying ethical principles.
The controversy over keeping too graphic images out of the media is clear and concise. Some of these images may be overwhelming to the youth, as well as disturbing and insensitive to others. To have such a powerful event occur and to plaster the “remains” of that event all over televisions nationwide, can also come off as disrespectful. However, the other side of the argument describes the fact that the media is there to cover the reality and truth, and sometimes that can mean death and war. Reality is sometimes hard to swallow for some people, but the fact is these things happen and you can’t escape it. Reporters should be able show the reality of the situation even if that means death. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
In all situations the best way to ease the debate is through good judgment. If the story requires the images to convey the reality of the situation go for it, if it doesn’t there is no need. You’ll never please everyone all of the time, journalism is not a popularity contest.