Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Media Coverage & Human Suffering
Hello fellow bloggers,
Thank you so much for your all of your engaging comments and questions this morning on my presentation, "The Ethics of Media Coverage and Human Suffering." I genuinely learned a lot from hearing your perspectives this morning on this topic, as well as other topics in former presentations.
To refresh you on the presentation, the purpose of it was to delve into the ethics of media coverage and human suffering by looking into a few Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs. The image (displayed on the left) was taken by the Boston Globe photojournalist Stan Grossfeld who was sent on assignment to cover the Ethiopian famine of the 1970s and 1980s. "Ethiopian Famine" shows a mother holding her emaciated child at a food station in the Tigray Province of Ethiopia during the famine. An hour after the exposure, the child died. "You try to be a technician and look through the viewfinder; sometimes the viewfinder fills up with tears," said Grossfeld. In the end, 500,000 to 1,000,000 died due to the famine. Covering such events raises so many ethical questions. We, as journalists, must look into the how and why of reporting human suffering in order to understand the intention and outcome of the story.
Why do we cover human suffering to begin with? Do you believe Grossfeld's photograph should of been released, published, awarded? And where is the line between objective coverage and pure sensationalism?
In other words, How do we proactively fight this desensitization and inform people?
For instance, how much of a reaction do we have when we read an article on a car bomb in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan that killed upwards of 50-100 people? Or a woman being oppressed, raped or stoned in Saudi Arabia for something as petty as leaving her home without a Burqa? Or Grossfeld's image portraying a famine that killed hundreds of thousands of people?
Chances are, we’re not collectively having the kind of response we should have. Meaning, we’re, at some level, calloused to human suffering. Isn't it problematic for even the storytellers to be jaded? So how do we remedy this as the Fourth Estate?
Here are some links to articles relating to this topic: