Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Reporters are burning out while reviewing brutal footage from the battlefields of Syria and the actions of ISIS. Some say it has become a mental health challenge in the newsroom. One wonders about this. There was a period in the news business when the more graphic a picture was the better. Think of Weegee in the mid 20th Century or Matthew Brady's photos of dead soldiers on Civil War battlefields or of the many photos from World War I and II, Korea and Vietnam. Perhaps it is that people are becoming more sensitive to death in all of its forms and no longer want to see it in its rawest presentations. There is an argument, however, that they should. Why disguise evil when people are beheaded on camera? The counter-argument is that such pictures and video become death porn and needlessly upset people, especially those related to the victim. There is no good answer for what a newsroom should do nor for that matter any organization. PR tends to hide the ugly but should it? Perhaps there are times when truth, as foul as it is, should be displayed. There might be no better way to communicate. There will never be a formula for what to do. It is an issue beyond computers and calculation.