State University of New York Institute of Technology
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Ethics Blog for Professionalism #5

For my last professionalism blog, I found a rather great article to discuss, despite its terrible circumstances. As we all unfortunately know, last week there was a terrible tragedy in Boston, since then there has been a great debate about ethics in the media. The article I chose to blog about, "A Graphic Reminder," discusses the ethics of the media posting a graphic picture in a widespread publication. The article can be found at the following location:

This article discusses four different choices that the media could have chosen in the following scenario taken from the article:

You are editor of a newspaper, and have the option to use a photo taken seconds after a bomb exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. From a journalistic point of view, the photo tells the story brilliantly: In the foreground, a stunned runner attempts to right herself, bewildered, after being blown to the ground. In the background, sprawled on blood-smeared pavement, is a man whose leg has been blown apart.

There’s no question it’s potent journalism, but is running the picture a great ethical decision? What do you do?

  1. Run it as it stands.
  2. Use it, but stick it on an inside page, perhaps with a warning on Page 1 that the photo is graphic and disturbing.
  3. Alter it by using Photoshop to disguise the gaping wound.
  4. Don’t use it at all.


The article goes on to discuss why a person would choose each path with examples. However, if it were me in the decision I will discuss my specific thoughts on how I might use the image.

First off, this story is a HUGE and popular story. Not putting this story on the front page with some kind of image isn't feasable. In a journalist perspective, this story would be of top priority. That being said, I wouldn't put a very graphic image on the front of my periodical. For the best ethical way to show this story, in my opinion choice 3 or a less graphic image would go on the front page and choice 2 would be used inside the publication. Walking into a store a child can clearly see the covers of these publications and you wouldn't want them to see something so graphic. Since some people might want to see the truth being posted, an inside section with a warning for those who wouldn't want to see something so graphic could be utilised.

Using graphic images can be essential in jounalism, but from an ethical standpoint you must take considerations for others when posting them. One must remember that not everyone wants to see some of these gruesome pictures, so posting them on the front page would be unethical.

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