Sunday, October 17, 2010


Hi, everyone. I promised some links to the pages I pulled info from during my presentation, so here are few you may want to check out.

The photographs taken by Vernaschi can be found here

Vernaschi's statement (on the Pulitzer Center's site) can be found here

The Pulitzer Center's official response can be found here

Anne Holmes of the Vigilante Journalist wrote about why she retracted a previous interview with Vernaschi here

This Lightstalkers debate about Vernaschi's methods is interesting.

An article on dvafoto about the ethical transgressions in Vernaschi's coverage can be found here transgressions-in-marco-vernaschis-coverage-for-the-pulitzer-center-on-crisis-reporting/

And finally, the Guardian's Roy Greenslade wrote an article about Vernaschi here

I also just came across this while looking for photos from other photojournalists who were there at the same time.

Andre Liohn was one of the photographers who had been there around the same time. He criticized Vernaschi based on several ethical issues having to do with his methods of reporting and the nature of his photographs.

This topic was a difficult one to read about due to its sensitive nature. Any time children are involved, it seems difficult to remain objective during a debate. I took issue with Vernaschi's methods of gathering information, but was disgusted by his insensitivity. My personal feeling is that any time money changes hands, a journalist's integrity is at stake. No matter how much Vernaschi wanted to help the family in question, he should never have given them money. Our job as journalists is to bring a story to the world without becoming involved in it ourselves. I am not questioning Vernaschi's intentions, because it is certainly understandable that he could have pitied this unfortunate family and hoped to ease their burden. However, ethical guidelines are clearly set out for us to follow in our professional work and Vernaschi failed to do so.

As far as the photograph of the three-year-old boy who was genitally mutilated, I think that is more an issue of personal taste. I feel that Vernaschi went too far and his photographs were bordering on sensationalism. He could have captured the essence of the horrible circumstance in a more tasteful way. Surely he could have captured a moment with the young boy that was not set up, rather than requesting that the boy undress completely for the photograph.

I am still searching for more photographs to share with you, but if anyone comes across any please share the link with us. I hope to get some dialogue going regarding your thoughts on Vernaschi's methods and his ethical standards. Please feel free to ask any questions as they come up. I will check up at least once a day to see what you guys have to say.


  1. What I find odd about the money given to the family is the fact that it was like a drug deal sort of scenario, because this family just lost their daughter and dig her up, illegally, let Vernashi photograph her then take money from him. So as much as I feel that this was morbid that he even asked to take pictures, but the family even went along with it. Children are a sensitive subject but the fact that he was able to travel and get the truth about this subject makes it a very important issue that I feel people need to know. So as morbid as it may be, I feel like it was for a just cause!

  2. While I realize the importance of bringing light to issues like this, I'm appalled that Vernashi would think it was appropriate to unearth the body of a dead child. Especially since, as I believe Megan mentioned, they weren't even sure if the little girl that had been exhumed was a victim of child sacrifice. On another note, while I'm not totally against the photographing of the little boy, I do think it was in bad taste. I'm also confused about why the parents of the child would have allowed him to be photographed because presumably they allowed the sacrifice to happen in the first place.

  3. I believe that Vernashi went off to Africa with only the best of intentions, but as a human being I must say that I find his actions to be sick, and deplorable. There is no excuse whatsoever to pay a family 75 dollars to exhume the corpse of their recently deceased daughter for a photo-op. I understand the need for us to cover things in the world both good and bad. Sometimes, the truth is ugly, gory, and disgusting, and there is a time and place for graphic images. However, in the case of Vernashi, I think he crossed the line of journalistic integrity and then some. Our job as journalists is to get the story, but not compromise our humanity in the process. Journalism is important, but people should always come first. If at times that means sacrificing the best image, or best quote in order to be human and be sensitive to others who are feeling pain, then so be it!

  4. Cole, I agree with you. Just because we can make a photograph doesn't mean that we should sacrifice our integrity or compromise our ethical standards to do so.

    I still can't believe that the parents of a handful of children agreed to let some stranger dig up their kids for photographs. It just blows my mind.