Have you ever given your attention to the little ratings square at the beginning of a tv show? The common ones are things like G (general audience) or PG (parental guidance suggested), but depending on the channel you might see some as descriptive as MA L V S (Mature Audience due to: Language, Violence & Sexual content). Parents can even set the tv to block out programs with certain tags; this allows for the channel to still be unblocked except during a show with selected level ratings.
Now think about the news. The news doesn’t have a rating box that pops up during broadcast. There are not any warnings associated with a news broadcast nor mentions of advised audiences. News is designed to be information suited for any audience. On occasion you may hear the reporter or anchor warn about the coming images being a bit ‘graphic in nature’ however beyond that it is left up to the news station’s discretion what to show and what to hide.
Unfortunately, sometimes news stations go a bit overboard with the use of images to tell a story. Some images, although deemed ‘graphic in nature’ have no right being shown to the public, no matter the reason. What news seems to all to often forget is that the people depicted in the images have feelings. They have a right to be shown how they choose. News stations take an already bad situation, document it photographically, and broadcast it across America for all to see without considering the impact it might have on the people involved in the situation.
As human beings, the last thing any of us wants is to have someone point a camera in our face right after a tragic event occurs in our lives. The event might be a big mistake we make, such as a car accident, all the way to a natural disaster that leaves us screaming for our life as a building crumbles beneath us. Either event is private in nature to the individual and to the community it occurs in. These events can be documented but a certain level of respect should be used when doing so, especially visually. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words, and words can hurt people.