The Gross National Debt

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

When realities collide

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Being young, stupid and having been shot not too many years before, I was quite full of myself when I stood up before a panel of internationally respected journalists and gave them my 19-year-old's opinion.

At hand was when does a journalist stay a journalist or set aside news gathering to help. I said screw journalism, help  the people!

Me bud Doug Rogers (a freakin' amazing shutterbug) broached the topic on FB: Question for the photogs: Should photographers take pictures of people getting their legs blown off or should they stop (we are assuming that there are enough people there to help)? (in light of the Boston Marathon Bombing)....You already know what I think..

You'll get to what he thinks at the bottom of this piece.

I replied:

This is an ages old argument. However, in this case there is more than just wounded people and journalists with cameras.

1) EMS, nurses and a TRUCKLOAD of people qualified to deal with medical issues were already on scene. This is exactly why the loss
of life is so low.

2) Unless the photog had emergency medical training, trying to help in this case would be getting in the way. So, take the pictures.

3) There were loads of other people also trying to help.

In the case of disaster where there was no help, screw the camera. I am a human first. If someone died because I was more interested in a picture - no. I'm not that kind of person.

Whom would you want to explain your actions to?

1) The family of the dead person. "Sorry. Yanno, I have a job to do. Had to get the news."

2) The editor. "Sorry. Person was dying there and I tried to save them."

As a newspaper publisher, I know what I expect my employees to do. You are a human first and a photog next.


Another commentator in this thread looked at it from the victims' perspective: If my legs were blown off, I would be upset if a photog was surrounding me capturing this horrific experience in my life. I would not want to come across any photos of me either. I think there is a tasteful way to capture tragedy. People crying, hugging, helping others, etc. would be more touching and interesting to me.

There's a gut shot for us journalists. At the same time, the comment is irrelevant. I remind everyone the purpose of the media is to make money. Us journalists don't get a free ride. We have bills to pay just like you do. We earn money by delivering the stuff you want to see. In this case, people may say they do not want to see people bleeding with shredded arms and legs. Reality says different. Reality says those are the money shots.

As Don Henley sang "We need dirty laundry."

There's also the question of documenting the event. Without any doubt, the Boston Marathon bombing is the most photographed terrorist attack ever. It will not surprise me if there are more than 1 million static images and more than 100,000 hours of video.

This event needs a human face and that includes tragedy.

I am reminded of the very first disaster covered with something more than just words. The Hindenburg. I am reminded of how Vietnam changed the face of war coverage. I am reminded of how the second battle in Iraq further changed war coverage by sending reporters out with troops.

I've had to cover gruesome events. I still recall the first murder scene I covered. I still CLEARLY see the aftermath of a head-on semi collision and - nah. You don't need to know more. I covered it. I took pictures until I ran out of film.

There was nothing I could do to help. So I documented to the best of my ability. I gathered everything I could and sorted it out back at the office. In the field, in the moment and on the scene is not the time to do intensive editing.

See the whole thread here: and find out what Dougie Fresh thinks

https://www.facebook.com/doug.rogers.7902/posts/10151441599477881?comment_id=26889512&offset=0&total_comments=11&notif_t=feed_comment_reply

2 comments:

  1. I am a fan sir.
    Dougie Fresh

    ReplyDelete
  2. Here is my take on those thoughts. If there is an emergency and a person's actions can help, then they should help regardless of what they are doing. However, in many cases when disasters happen, you have literally hundreds of people who are very well trained in their jobs helping out so as Ben said, most people would just get in the way. Having had EMS training and worked with the Pike County Fire and Rescue Squad, I can tell you that having well meaning but untrained people trying to help can cause more harm then good. So if you want to help, hand out blankets or juice but stay out of the way.

    ReplyDelete