Last June, after a Thai newspaper published what it said was a photo of actor David Carradine's body found hanging by ropes in a Bangkok hotel closet, Al Tompkins of Poynter Online weighed in on the issue by explaining why the "alleged Carradine death photos should not be published". In the article, Tompkins also threw light on the decision-making process that goes on in newsrooms regarding the inclusion of graphic content.
Tompkins also provided a link to Pearl Photo: Too Harmful, a piece by his colleague Bob Steele on the ethics of such decisions. Steele wrote his column after a Boston paper published "horrific pictures" of the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
Both articles give us much to think about.
'THE PERILS OF PREGNANCY'
Still on the subject of photos that can upset readers, Time magazine on June 21 published a photo feature titled "Maternal Mortality in Sierra Leone: The Story of Mamma". Subtitled "One woman's journey from pregnancy to death", the feature comes with a warning: "Please note that this gallery contains graphic content."
- Here, meanwhile, are the letters re: "The Story of Mamma" that Time published in its issue of July 5:
A MOTHER'S TOO BRIEF LIFE
While I appreciated "The Perils of Pregnancy," about Mamma Sessay, I take offense at the pictures. Showing this woman at her most vulnerable was disrespectful. Would these photos have been cleaned up if she were not a poor African woman?
Raleigh, N.C., U.S.
Your piece on Sessay's death during childbirth brought tears to my eyes. The piece made me scared for the millions of women in the world who lack medical care. How long will we cry for our women?
Please let me know what I can do to help Sessay's family or another family avoid the same fate.
Lawton, Okla., U.S.
ALICE PARK RESPONDS: CARE and UNICEF, which accept individual donations, have excellent global maternal-health programs.