March 22, 2015 by EmilyCRios
We have all seen images blasted through the media after devastating acts have occurred and social media has only increased the ability for these images to be shared and shared quickly. We have seen this happen time and time again and once such instance was following the Boston Marathon Bombing when media and private citizens alike were sharing images of the devastation they were witnessing first hand.
Images of bloody victims with missing limbs were being shared, but just because these images are being captured does it mean it is ethical that they are being shared. Some of the ethical concerns that sharing these photos raise are privacy and whether or not using an images of someone at their worst is right and in the case of major tragedies all people want to do is know that their loved ones are safe and by sharing these types of images people could essentially end up seeing their loved ones dying before their eyes.
Another question raised by sharing these graphic images is whether or not they give power to the people or groups that committed the horrific acts.
These graphic images do not always have to include bloody violence and devastation. Following the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut one of the images that resonated the most with me was a photo of a line of children being led a way from the school by FBI agents with several children appearing to be crying. While this was a powerful image that truly showed the devastating and the young lives that were lost and affected by the terrible events those children are going to have to deal with that day for the rest of their lives and I can’t imaging that seeing photos of themselves on that day is going to be helpful.
In the National Press Photographers Association’s Code of Ethics one of their standards is to “treat all subjects with respect and dignity. Give special consideration to vulnerable subjects and compassion to victims of crime or tragedy. Intrude on private moments of grief only when the public has an overriding and justifiable need to see.” It all comes down to news organizations and individuals deciding what they think people need to see.