PDA

View Full Version : AP and the Death of a Marine


Schmedlap
09-06-2009, 04:38 AM
The AP recently released a statement in regard to the controversy surrounding their decision to publish the photo of Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard, as he lay fatally wounded in Afghanistan. Some excerpts are below...

NEW YORK (AP) The Associated Press is distributing a photo of a Marine fatally wounded in battle, choosing after a period of reflection to make public an image that conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it. Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine, was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush Aug. 14 in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan.
The image shows fellow Marines helping Bernard after he suffered severe leg injuries. He was evacuated to a field hospital where he died on the operating table.
The picture was taken by Associated Press photographer Julie Jacobson, who accompanied Marines on the patrol and was in the midst of the ambush during which Bernard was wounded. She had photographed Bernard on patrol earlier, and subsequently covered the memorial service held by his fellow Marines after his death....
Journalists embedded with U.S. forces in Afghanistan must sign a statement accepting a series of rules... Critics also maintain some of the rules are aimed at sanitizing the war, minimizing the sacrifice and cruelty which were graphically depicted by images from the Civil War to Vietnam where such restrictions were not in place...
An AP reporter met with his parents, allowing them to see the images.
Bernard's father after seeing the image of his mortally wounded son said he opposed its publication, saying it was disrespectful to his son's memory. John Bernard reiterated his viewpoint in a telephone call to the AP on Wednesday.
"We understand Mr. Bernard's anguish. We believe this image is part of the history of this war. The story and photos are in themselves a respectful treatment and recognition of sacrifice," said AP senior managing editor John Daniszewski.


See the full statement here: http://www.ap.org/fallen_marine/

I for one am reassured that they "understand Mr. Bernard's anguish," though I am still trying to square that understanding with their decision to publish this photo after consulting with Mr. Bernard and after Secretary Gates begged the AP (http://www.defenselink.mil//news/newsarticle.aspx?id=55732)"to defer to the wishes of the family."

Jesse9252
09-06-2009, 05:53 AM
The letter from Secretary Gates to the CEO of the AP, Thomas Curley, can be read here. (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/flash/Lens/2009/09/20090903-Behind-Jacobson/20090903-Behind-Curley.pdf)

In my opinion, his final paragraph sums it up perfectly:
I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard's death has caused his family. Why your organization would purposefully defy the family's wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right - but judgment and common decency.

MikeF
09-06-2009, 05:57 AM
The letter from Secretary Gates to the CEO of the AP, Thomas Curley, can be read here. (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/flash/Lens/2009/09/20090903-Behind-Jacobson/20090903-Behind-Curley.pdf)

In my opinion, his final paragraph sums it up perfectly:

Jesse,

I'm conflicted on this one. Even more after I watched the fanfare of Michael Jackson's death. In this day and age, how do you suggest that our nation should recognize the fallen given the 24-hour news cycle and the limited if not non-existent civilian interest in "the military's wars?"

v/r

Mike

Ken White
09-06-2009, 06:16 AM
pictures of dead and wounded provided the faces aren't visible, names are not given until the family has been notified and the family agrees with the publication or display. If the family does not agree, then IMO they should not show the picture or clip. That, as the man said, is just common decency.

I find it fascinating that organizations that use anonymous sources and refuse to reveal them to Torquemada Fitzgerald or when threatened with jail by judges, that refuse to identify vicious hoods who are under 16 or whatever, cannot find it within themselves to heed the request of a family.

'The American people have the right to know' is one of the greatest scams of all time -- what they mean is the American people have a right to know what we want them to know even if they don't really need to know or even want to know... :mad:

Smells like politics to me... :rolleyes:

Jesse9252
09-06-2009, 06:39 AM
In this day and age, how do you suggest that our nation should recognize the fallen given the 24-hour news cycle and the limited if not non-existent civilian interest in "the military's wars?"
Mike, I wish I knew how to stimulate more civilian interest. As far as images of the dead and wounded, my opinions run roughly similar to Ken's I think. I applauded Secretary Gates' decision to open up Dover to the media, and I wish that the front pages of our newspapers had more stories honoring the young men and women who have fallen in the line of duty. I have no wish to hide the terrible costs of war from the public, or to try and force the press to report through rose-tinted glasses. But a photo of a 21-year old bleeding out, with his face clearly visible, is more exploitative than respectful IMHO, especially when you take into account the family's wishes.

The most powerful, and gut wrenching, series of war photographs I have ever seen were in the photo essay by Larry Burroughs Yankee Papa 13 (http://www.vetswithamission.org/papa13/yankeepapa13.htm) about a USMC helicopter crew (cover below). Either Burroughs himself or the LIFE editorial staff (can't remember) modified some of the shots to cover the face of the dying pilot. That small act of decency did nothing to lessen the emotional impact of the images or their journalistic intent. I think it's a shame that AP did not exercise similar discretion.

http://www.vetswithamission.org/papa13/images/cover.jpg

MikeF
09-06-2009, 06:51 AM
Mike, I wish I knew how to stimulate more civilian interest. As far as images of the dead and wounded, my opinions run roughly similar to Ken's I think. I applauded Secretary Gates' decision to open up Dover to the media, and I wish that the front pages of our newspapers had more stories honoring the young men and women who have fallen in the line of duty. I have no wish to hide the terrible costs of war from the public, or to try and force the press to report through rose-tinted glasses. But a photo of a 21-year old bleeding out, with his face clearly visible, is more exploitative than respectful IMHO, especially when you take into account the family's wishes.

The most powerful, and gut wrenching, series of war photographs I have ever seen were in the photo essay by Larry Burroughs Yankee Papa 13 (http://www.vetswithamission.org/papa13/yankeepapa13.htm) about a USMC helicopter crew (cover below). Either Burroughs himself or the LIFE editorial staff (can't remember) modified some of the shots to cover the face of the dying pilot. That small act of decency did nothing to lessen the emotional impact of the images or their journalistic intent. I think it's a shame that AP did not exercise similar discretion.

http://www.vetswithamission.org/papa13/images/cover.jpg

he's old and has that wisdom thing going for him :D.

Jesse,

Thanks for the reply. As long as we have a volunteer army, we will probably never solve the gap between the citizen and the military. During my last deployment, reporters/photographers from TIME magazine were present at the time that I suffered my sole KIA's in 4 deployments. Later, they gave me the photos, but they promised not to publish them.

Now, I don't know.

v/r

Mike

Schmedlap
09-06-2009, 05:30 PM
In this day and age, how do you suggest that our nation should recognize the fallen given the 24-hour news cycle and the limited if not non-existent civilian interest in "the military's wars?"
Memorial Day (http://www.usmemorialday.org/act.html)

Abu Suleyman
09-07-2009, 03:14 PM
Here-here to that. I get a lot frustrated with the way that Memorial Day is remembered. In fact, as one of the few veterans that many of the students know here, I had a couple of people talk to me on Memorial day and comment that it was "my" day as a veteran. I was grateful that at least they were that aware of what Memorial Day was, but I explained to them that Memorial day is for the Veterans you cannot talk to. However, for the majority of people Memorial Day is just a day to celebrate the Beginning of summer.

This is part of a larger problem, wherein people have lost the meaning of sacrifice. When I lived in DC I stopped accompanying extended family members to places like Gettysburg, Arlington, or Memorials because I felt that people treated them as tourist attractions and not as the national hallowed ground that they are. Even worse, in my opinion, is that when the media does cover soldiers who sacrifice, they often phrase it not as a noble sacrifice of a brave man or woman for the good of others, but of a poor dupe who got conned into joining the military. The absolute worst at this, of course, is Michael Moore who comes right out and says it.

I understand that death is a sad time for all involved, and like most people on this forum, I have left close friends on the battlefield. However, I view their service and their lives as something to be celebrated, and not mourned. Surely they are missed, but they have sanctified their lives in one glorious moment, and all of us should remember and respect that. We survivors should be so lucky, and try and live our lives to give them as much meaning as those who laid down theirs on our behalf gave to theirs.

Watcher In The Middle
09-08-2009, 04:50 AM
Originally posted by Ken White:
Smells like politics to me

Actually, it's more about economics. The Associated Press is working to deploy a software "system" to track pilfered content published by the AP.

Link to what the AP is planning on doing. (http://www.niemanlab.org/2009/08/why-the-associated-press-plans-to-hold-some-web-content-off-the-wire/)

If an article or a photograph isn't published (like the photograph in this specific case), it's unlikely it can be protected.

So if the AP gets a first photograph on just about anything these days, they're likely going to go for publication, because these days, its all about getting control of those digital rights.

It's all about the money.

Ken White
09-08-2009, 05:08 AM
intent and ongoing battles with others over rights -- and fees.

Of course, there is the option to delete it and wipe the disk, that way no one could publish it. I know, I know, I also dream of my Ferrari being delivered tomorrow... :wry:

Watcher In The Middle
09-08-2009, 05:25 AM
This is going to be one of those cases where in the future, if there is an AP stringer or a "journalist" type working directly for the AP and they get an exclusive and/or photographs, best be placing bets it's going to get published as an AP exclusive, whatever the stories/photographs may be.

I doubt this is going to be an isolated incident going forward - it's going to become more and more likely, and not just on the battlefield. The AP better think this through really, really good - because this type of "policy" could easily become extremely offensive to a very large segment of the population.

"Common decency" for the dead or the dying - or the grieving families and loved ones...

IMO, you just DON'T MESS with that.

SWCAdmin
09-10-2009, 11:17 PM
Please see this SWC Poll / thread (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=8363)on the subject and carry on the conversaton there.

This thread is closed.