In yesterday's blog "Were Photos of Grieving Mom in the Post and Rocky intrusive -- or great journalism?," I wrote about the ethics behind the Post's decision to run the image of a mother at the instant she learned her son had been killed by an Aurora police officer on its front page, even though the story itself ran deeper in the paper. In my view, the broadsheet's up-front placement of the photo was exploitative, but I endorsed the Rocky's decision to print a very similar shot (seen above) on an inside page alongside its own report. So, too, does the Rocky's Tina Griego in today's column "Photo of Mother's Pain a Portrait of Love" -- although she acknowledges that plenty of other people apparently feel differently.
Here's what one online commenter wrote about the decision to include the photo:
I don't know what is more disgusting; the initial comments on this thread making light of a man's death or the Rocky's decision to publish a picture of an anguished lady (purportedly the mother). The decision to run the photo is a poor one and is done in the guise of sensationalism. However, even that has a more rational basis than the truly out-of-bounds comments finding humor in this event.
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And here's Griego's response:
It's not the circumstance but the photo which prompts me to write. The picture stops others in their tracks, as well. I read complaints online that it is the worst kind of sensationalism and we should not have run it. Yes, it is invasive -- as all photos of grief are. But it is not crass or gratuitous. It is a moment when everything, all the other nonsense in life that manages to keep us preoccupied, is stripped away. It is a moment that reminds us of our common humanity.
Well put. No denying that journalism can be cruel at times, as the woman in this photo has learned firsthand. But the incident was indisputably newsworthy, and while the image in question is unpleasant, it underscores a truth worth reiterating: Our actions have repercussions -- some wonderful, some horrific -- on those we love, and on the people who love us back. -- Michael Roberts