Thursday, May 13, 2004

Images have power

There are some really rough images from both sides of the battle in Iraq. Neither is pretty. All are important.

Although none were taken by trained photojournalists, there is one undeniable fact from this week: photographs are immediately understood by everyone around the world.

Photographs also come with consequences as well as responsibilities.

Morning newspapers will not run the most horrendous images because we understand this is not something people want to see during breakfast. This is the newspaper’s responsibility. It must balance the role of record keeper against the right to read without offence.

These images are available online. Someone always wants to increase traffic to their Web site and will stoop to whatever base level is necessary to achieve this goal. Letting readers know these images exist will need to be enough for the morning newspapers.

Understand however some newspapers will present these images as a pure, painful truth about the world in which we now live. It has always been brutal. It is now more visual and accessible than ever before.

This is an election year. Unfortunately, these images will be used as political currency. I am sure the images will be shown time and again to support each side of the Washington argument. All will point fingers and shout, but the images will shout the loudest of all. Images have this power.

As each image screams, I hope our readers will not lose interest from the din. Images also have this adverse side effect. They are numbing. Horrific images burn into the mind. It is immediate, and it is permanent.

If the images are too horrible, they will force viewers to develop defenses against their own anxiety and make shock more difficult to attain. Ghastly images then become common. The “been there, done that” complex works.

As these images are slowly ruminated and absorbed, don’t become numb to the realities presented by powerful images.

Enough for now,

No comments: