Should We Show The Horror?

April 18th, 2013 by Michael Tabor

Time Magazine is getting heat from some people who think they’ve gone too far by displaying a picture of a terrified 3 year old boy with dirt on his face and blood on his head that will be on the cover of a special edition of the Boston Marathon tragedy. The critics are saying: “This is what the terrorists want” or “this is blood money and exploitation.” Certainly there is some truth to these assertions and I acknowledge this, but I am for one all for showing what “really” happens in war, terror attacks, and some national tragedies “if” the publication is NOT exploitative (I guess this maybe at the crux of what’s going on at Time).

Portray reality – don’t overplay or underplay the savage brutality of terror and war. Yes, the adage ‘If it bleeds it leads’ is a fact and news publications are in the business of making money, but a free press is perhaps the most important staple of an open and transparent democracy.  I actually don’t think we show enough of the unimaginable horrors of war – especially concerning those who survive but are maimed, crippled and damaged. Phil Donahue and Bill Moyers produced a feature documentary depicting the daily struggles of a young man who served his country and was sadly victim of an explosive in which shrapnel tore through his young  body leaving him paralyzed and left to spend the rest of his life in a wheel chair. What is it like having to go to the bathroom in a colostomy bag? Or consider the ordeal of simply bathing when you can’t move and need others to help you do what every other healthy individual takes for granted. The mundane existence of what happens to damaged soldiers, physically and psychologically, is simply not shown ENOUGH ! Before we shuffle off our sons and daughters or before a young person decides to join the military on his or her own, they and we ought to know what they are getting themselves into. Not everyone makes it back in one piece and one has to think long and hard about whether or not you wish to sacrifice life and limb for this country.
I also think we have an obligation to show the public what happens when twisted – evil – monsters blow up innocent people; what is the point of sugar – coating an event when our country is attacked ? Now certainly exploitation and exhibiting carnage for the sake of bloodlust is another matter e.g. thankfully the media had the good sense not to show the bloodied bodies of the children at Newtown.

So WhaDaYaThink ? What do you think ? Is the Time Magazine picture exploitation or not?

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3 Responses to “Should We Show The Horror?”

  1. Le duke de fromage Says:

    Michael, Admittedly I am a skeptic when it comes to the media coverage relating to tragedies as the Boston bombing. As one critic stated, the media frenzy that is developing leaves one to wonder is it news or plain exploitation of a tragedy? One can question the motives of certain media outlets when faced with the sensationalizing in the aftermath of such horrific events. However where do you draw the line? Is it just honest reporting or an attempt to boost ratings and circulation? Personally, I believe the shock value of such photos quickly looses effect and then only appeals to the voyeuristic appetites of a small minority. While we need to encourage a free and open news media we also must be aware of the dark side of shock and exploitation of such disasters.

  2. Michael Tabor Says:

    Sadly, Le Duke it’s difficult to argue against any of your points because indeed you’re right on the mark. It’s all about circulation, ratings, etc when it comes to the media and as I stated in the blog, if it bleeds it leads. When you consider the fact that that there are so many media outlets now e.g. internet, print (which is fighting for its life) 1000 + cable channels, & more, the competition is fierce and hence we see more and more voyeurism & yellow journalism which is unfortunate. I still get the New York Times delivered and will never discard print. I truly believe the NYT does its very best to avoid exploitation and I swear by the paper – it’s simply the best.

  3. magdalena Says:

    In this day and age anyone, anywhere can snap a photo with the use of a mobile device or cell phone. This said, the amount of material submitted to the media must be staggering yet we don’t often see images that are too graphic. So I am of the opinion that great thought and consideration is made by the news people before submitting any that may be too distasteful. The little boy on the cover of Time conveys the helplessness of being in harms way and the vigilance we must enact to ensure the safety of our children and ourselves. I say “well done”. And as an added aside, the abhorrence of bombs should be met with the same passion as the dangers resulting in the use of guns. Both kill. Where’s our leadership?

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