Many seem to be going bananas about FEMA’s decision to deny journalist requests to photograph corpses as they are recovered from New Orleans. While I don’t personally want to see any of that, I understand the journalistic push to capture the whole story. I don’t believe that’s all that’s driving it, of course, because photographs (and video footage) of corpses would be a ratings winner, but I’m going to believe the best about people right now. The ideals of journalism win out as their prevailing reason.
Yet, I genuinely believe that any censorship concerns are overblown. Recovery teams are searching through hazardous conditions and should not be hampered by taking care of journalists and photographers. I understand that journalists are embedded in war zones and that our government has experience with that. However, Iraq isn’t flooded. The journalists can’t move around by foot with the recovery team. They’ll occupy space in boats better served by individuals trained for this crisis. Also, the potential for spreading disease is obvious. The mayor ordered a forced evacuation of all remaining residents. Why should we exclude journalists from that evacuation? Ultimately, we know New Orleans is a wasteland. We don’t need further proof.
That’s my spiel on the FEMA censorship non-story. This is what I find fascinating. From the article, there is this basic statement:
An agency spokeswoman said space was needed on the rescue boats and that “the recovery of the victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect.”
“We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media,” the spokeswoman said in an e-mailed response to a Reuters inquiry.
Perfect, basic journalism works to get the story. So why does this next paragraph follow the above excerpt in the story?
The Bush administration also has prevented the news media from photographing flag-draped caskets of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, which has sparked criticism that the government is trying to block images that put the war in a bad light.
The Iraq war photography ban angle is suspect, at best, but it’s possible to see that as relevant. Strained logic because corpses and caskets aren’t equal in photography, but the connection is possible. “Which has sparked criticism…” is pure bias, though, attempting to frame the story to highlight that this isn’t the first time the “evil” Bush administration has screwed up and tried to hide it. It’s unnecessary, tiresome and distracting. No doubt this could (will?) be used as an example of the “liberal MSM”.
When I want facts, I read news. When I want opinion, I read editorials. Logic suggests the two should remain separate. I still contend that individual organizations perpetuate such bias, rather than some grand conspiracy. Regardless, today, Reuters failed in its journalism.