Photos of Death
Nora Ephron begins her essay, “The Boston Photographs” by quoting Stanley Forman, the photographer essentially responsible for the pictures of death: “I made all kinds of pictures because I thought it would be a good rescue shot over the ladder” (Ephron). Even Forman was not expecting death to reveal itself with all its gory details to people who would find it disturbing. Although Forman and all people are aware that death is a certainty, it is not a social norm to openly discuss death whenever we meet our friends or family.
At the same time, however, as Ephron mentions the “Why doesn’t the press point the good news? ” argument in her essay – Forman and all people who were disturbed at seeing those pictures of death are equally conscious of the fact that newspapers carry bad news so as to bring about positive societal change. Indeed, the pictures of death taken by Forman inspired Massachusetts and other states to develop “tougher fire safety codes” (“Fire on Marlborough Street”). Forman won a Pulitzer Prize for this reason (“Fire on Marlborough Street”).
Thus, Ephron is correct in her defense of publishing the pictures of death. Photographs and writings allow humanity to gather and distribute knowledge, and of course, knowledge is meant to help society develop itself further. According to Lester, journalism in the United States thrives on tragic incidents and violence seeing that American readers enjoy horrific tales. But, this statement cannot be proven. After all, newspapers are meant to inform readers about both happy and tragic incidents. The fact that bad news stuns us and makes us ponder is true.
Besides, it is not possible to bring about positive societal change unless we are aware of the facts. This is the reason why I completely agree with Ephron’s defense of publishing the pictures of death. Children who have not yet heard of death are not expected to read newspapers in any case. Adults have knowledge that life brings both positive and negative surprises. Then again, there is an argument that individuals have their right to privacy against media attention (“Media Ethics: Questions for Discussion”). Loved ones of the deceased may or may not desire for reminders about how scary death appeared to one of them.
Still, it is unreasonable to argue that the media must hide the gruesome facts of life just because we are not living in heaven as yet. Ephron is correct to state that atrocities must be exposed. If the entire world had been aware of the Holocaust because CNN or BBC had taken photographs of Auschwitz at the time, world history would be entirely different because countless lives would have been saved. Hence, it is childishly immature to argue against publishing photographs of death. I would have published photographs taken by Forman if I were in the position to do so, and I would have done this without a second thought.
Newspapers do not cover every fact of life, which is why televisions and the Internet allow us to join the missing dots. I may Google-search for images of decomposed human bodies just now, or buy DVD’s covering complicated child birth. Newspaper readers cannot pretend to be naive. All of us are newspaper readers, but we do not rely on newspapers alone for knowledge about our world. We watch television and search for facts on the Internet because we thirst for more information. It is ridiculous, therefore, to argue against publishing photographs of tragedies including incidents leading to death in newspapers.
Works Cited Ephron, Nora. “The Boston Photographs. ” 2005. 6 May 2009. <http://www. haverford. edu/writingprogram/Ephron. pdf>. “Fire on Marlborough Street . ” World’s Famous Photos. 2007. 6 May 2009. <http://www. worldsfamousphotos. com/fire-on-marlborough-street-1975. html>. Lester, Paul Martin. “Chapter Four: Victims of Violence. ” Photojournalism: An Ethical Approach. 1999. 6 May 2009. <http://faculty. spokanefalls. edu/InetShare/AutoWebs/markd/Media%20Ethics. ppt>. “Media Ethics: Questions for Discussion. ” 6 May 2009. <http://faculty. spokanefalls. edu/InetShare/AutoWebs/markd/Media%20Ethics.Sample Essay of PapersOwl.com