I don’t know what it is about coffins and bodies but the some in the media seem to have an unhealthy obsession with them. First, there was the push for showing pictures of our soldiers returning home in flag-drapped coffins, now this:
FEMA accused of censorship
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When U.S. officials asked the media not to take pictures of those killed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, they were censoring a key part of the disaster story, free speech watchdogs said on Wednesday.
The move by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is in line with the Bush administration’s ban on images of flag-draped U.S. military coffins returning from the Iraq war, media monitors said in separate telephone interviews.
"It’s impossible for me to imagine how you report a story whose subject is death without allowing the public to see images of the subject of the story," said Larry Siems of the PEN American Center, an authors’ group that defends free expression.
It’s impossible for me to imagine how, for umpteen hundreds of years that stories have been reported about car accidents where people are killed, murders where wives and their unborn children are drowned, that we somehow managed to understand and grasp the seriousness of what happened without seeing the dead bodies. It just boggles the mind!
FEMA, in an email response to the media inquiry, had this to say:
"The recovery of victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect and we have requested that no photographs of the deceased by made by the media."
Makes perfect sense, right? Apparently not to the death-obsessed:
Rebecca Daugherty of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press found this stance inexplicable.
"The notion that, when there’s very little information from FEMA, that they would even spend the time to be concerned about whether the reporting effort is up to its standards of taste is simply mind-boggling," Daugherty said. "You cannot report on the disaster and give the public a realistic idea of how horrible it is if you don’t see that there are bodies as well."
WOW. Is that so? I must have missed, then, all those photos displayed in newspapers and online about Nick Berg’s beheading – no, not the picture just before the beheading, but a picture *of* the beheading itself. Somehow I managed to get an idea of just how gruesome that heinous act was without (gasp!) seeing a photo of it. Don’t know how they did it, but most of America got the idea of how sick Berg’s murder was, too, without seeing a photo of his dead body. A drunk driving accident that killed young teens happened here where I live not too long ago, and I figured out how sad and tragic and unnecessary the deaths that happened because of it were without seeing the victims dead in the car.
Memo to the media: we don’t need to see a dead body to understand the graveness (no pun intended) of the circumstances surrounding their death or murder. Do your jobs and be descriptive about them if you must but please show some respect for the dead and let them rest in peace without you sensationalizing their demise in order to sell newspapers and ad time.
Related: Captain Ed points out a news network that is actually doing their homework on the fact that there actually was an emergency response plan for NO that was never implemented.
Linked up with OTB’s Traffic Jam
Thurs. a.m. update: Michelle Malkin blogs about how Moveon.Org is Sheehan-izing Katrina.
Update II: The always on-the-mark CavalierX has a must read post up today: Demanding Dictatorship in Katrina’s Wake?