Young men dead

Should the media publish images of dead U.S. servicemen?

Over the weekend, I was reading Susan D. Moeller's essay on "Media and Democracy"and she pointed out that one of the paramount problems with the mainstream media is that they have failed to show the human costs of war.

From September 1, 2004 to February 28, 2005, 559 American soldiers and Western allies died but not a single picture got published in the seven elite U.S. newspapers. Among these elite: New York Times, Washington Post, Time and Newsweek. During this time period, there were two significant news events: the U.S. led assault on Fallujah and the January 2005 elections in Iraq.

Times have changed. Life magazine published grim pictures of the Spanish Civil War in 1938 with these words:

Once again Life prints grim pictures of War, well knowing that once again they will dismay and outrage thousands and thousands of readers. But today's two great continuing news events are two wars -- one in China, one in Spain... Obviously Life cannot ignore not suppress these two great news events in pictures. As events, they have an authority far more potent than any editors' policy or readers' squeamishness. But Life could conceivably choose to show pictures of these events that make them look attractive. They are not, however, attractive events... Americans' noble and sensible dislike of war is largely based on ignorance of what modern war really is... The love of peace has no meaning or no stamina unless it is based on a knowledge of war's terrors... Dead men have indeed died in vain if live men refuse to look at them.. [Emphasis mine]
Anbar Province Suicide Bombing - Zoriah's Eyewitness Account - Iraq War Diary
Photo: Alex Majoli (Courtesy of Magnum Photos)

Today its even easier to ignore war's terrors as the U.S. officials actively try to make it hard for journalists to get the reality out of the afflicted areas. Embedded Photojournalist, Zoriah was barred for publishing photos of Marines killed in a suicide bombing last month. In his blog post, he wrote:

What I saw was abhorrently graphic, yet far too important for the world to ignore. I present images that provide an uncensored view of a terrible event, and some small measure of dignity to those who lost their lives.

You can see all images here and decide for yourself... if these images should be published? Do they, as Zoriah says, give some dignity to those who lost their lives? or are the politicians using this absence of reality to portray the illusion of victory in places like Iraq?


You can listen to Zoriah's full account (from Demoracynow.org):

RELATED: New York Times has published "4,000 U.S. Deaths, and Just a Handful of Public Images" accompanied by a "Picturing Casualties" slide show.