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Would you run this picture?

bodypixEditors often have to make tough decisions. Every day, they make decisions about what to run and what not to run in their publications. So you be the editor. Would you run this picture? Yes, that is a dead body and a real person’s legs sticking out of the ice. Now that you’ve made a decision, read the story about this picture. Is your decision the same? Does the story change your mind? Would you run it on the front page if you were the editor of The Detroit News? Why or why not?  Post your well-considered answers to the comments section of this blog by the beginning of class on Thursday, Feb. 12. Remember  typos, spelling errors and poor grammar may cost you points.

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  1. Amanda Bergstrom
    February 8, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I was very half and half when I first saw the picture. At first I decided that the picture was not really that bad and running it wouldn’t have been horrible. Then I thought about it a little more from the perspective of that person’s family, I wouldn’t want my loved ones displayed so gruesomely for thousands of people to see. I would no, I would not run the picture. After reading the story is solidified my opinion. Yes, the picture helped to give an idea of what people were seeing when it came to the body, but it wasn’t needed for the story. It seemed that the reporter’s angle was about how Detroit’s police department did not respond because it was of little importance or of their millionaire that owns all the property and lets it decay. It seemed like the picture was just a reason to write the story not really the story behind it. I don’t think someone’s memory should be displayed in such a fashion just to get a story on the front page, its unethical and cold. I would also never run that on my front page, defiantly not something I would want my children to see during breakfast.

  2. Morgan Demmel
    February 10, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    At first glance, I thought the picture should not be printed in the paper. But after reading the story, I think the picture needs to be printed. Even though this picture paints a grim picture of life in Detroit, I think it is necessary to the story. It is very graphic, so it should not be printed on the front page, but it is important for the citizens of Detroit to see the image to understand the problems the city faces. The picture illustrates the carelessness of the people who saw the body and didn’t inform the police. The photo is appalling but necessary because it will get a large reaction and motivate citizens to do more to help their community.

  3. Rachel Sullivan
    February 11, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I would not have run this picture. I found it quite disturbing and not neccessary to the story. I think the story itself is effective enough in describing the poor living conditions of these people. The picture definitely grabs you and makes you want to read the story because of its graphic nature. However, a good headline would have been just as effective.

  4. Brittany Claxton
    February 11, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Likewise, I was torn whether or not it would be effective and appropriate to print such a disturbing picture. In conjunction with the story I do not think it is necessary to include the photo. It does allow readers an opportunity to fully assess the gravity of such grave circumstances, however I do think the story alone was effective enough in provoking the desired emotions associated with the situation. I agree it is an incredibly strong image but also incredibly disturbing and should not be included, regardless of the fact that there is not likely any family to be upset with the publication of this photo.

  5. Brittany Sturek
    February 11, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    As bad as it sounds, I probably would have run the picture. The story changed my mind. It’s all about the lack of response and carelessness shown toward homeless people and even the dead. It’s disturbing and a sad wake-up call. But since this is about Detroit life and published in a Detroit newspaper, the people there would probably be used to these kinds of stories so it wouldn’t be as shocking as it would be to someone else, like someone from small-town Nebraska. Also, the picture doesn’t show an entire dead body, just the legs. If this picture and story was on the front page, I think people would definitely look at it and be intrigued enough to read the story. It’s just so odd.

  6. Katrina Fischman
    February 11, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    When I first saw the picture, I thought it should be published. Yes, the picture is disturbing, but it is not too graphic. The body’s face is not shown, nor are there gory flesh details of someone who froze to death.

    After I read the story, I still thought the picture should be published.

    I think the image grabs the reader’s attention and pulls them into the story. Combined with the headline, the effect is compelling. People who view this image are shocked at the picture and then appalled upon learning the citizens’ reactions. I was horrified at the disinterest displayed by all of the people who came into contact with the body, yet they did nothing. The picture caused me to feel this way. Without the picture, the reader would not fully understand what the people were seeing. The picture may be more risqué than most published, but it helps illustrate the problems of Detroit and inspire people to make a change.

  7. Mac Barber
    February 11, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    I would run this picture. Yes, it’s graphic, but it’s not like there’s a big, bloody gash in a corpse. Yes, it’s disturbing, but that disturbing feeling is a big part of the story. But this picture conveys these feelings in a way that simple text can’t. If the story only had a fleeting reference or connection to the picture, then I would not have put the picture in. The image is central to the story, so the picture can be published. I know it’s troubling, and some people will be offended, but I feel this picture is a necessary part of the story.

  8. Jaclyn Tan
    February 11, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Before reading the story, I wasn’t sure whether I would run the picture. I thought the picture wasn’t too disturbing because it wasn’t gory or disgusting, but it did seem eerie. I wanted more information to decide whether there was a compelling reason to run a picture of a dead body.

    After reading the story, I decided that I would run the picture with the story. Although the reporter described the gruesome scene in the article, I think the picture is much more effective in drawing the reader’s attention to the article. The photo also conveys a sense of urgency in dealing with the “human problem.” How could a person have ended up dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft, and stayed there for so long? I was sad that the people who saw the body didn’t even care to call the police.

    I don’t think the picture is too gruesome to be placed on the front page because it only shows the legs of the person. However, I wouldn’t necessarily put it on the front page because it is a dead body, and some readers would be offended or shocked by it.

  9. Marcy Pursell
    February 11, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    At first I was unsure if it should run, but then I decided that it shouldn’t. I thought the image looked fake and that readers might call the newspaper to report a false image, giving the newspaper less credibility.
    After I read the article, I think the photo should run because it shows the reader exactly what’s going. If I wouldn’t have seen a photo, I don’t think I could have pictured this event actually happening. Also, I think it’s okay because the photo doesn’t show a rotting corpse, just one that has his covered legs sticking out.

  10. John Ray
    February 11, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    At first glance I was most certain that I wouldn’t run th picture. It just seemed too grotesque. After reading the story however, I changed my mind. I felt that the picture was essential to the story.
    I know that if I were to read this story without a picture, it would kind of upset me. I would wish they had published a photo with the story so that I didn’t have to use my imagination. So yes, I would have published the photo with the story.
    Publishing the story with the photo on the front page would be a different story though. Although the photo is essential to the story I just don’t believe it should be printed on the front page. The reason is because I personally don’t believe anything as violent as a dead body should ever be printed on the front page, whether it be from war or a car accident. If I wanted to print the story o the front page I would run part of on the front with picture of police line and the other part on another page with this photo.

  11. Krista Vogel
    February 11, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    At first glance, I thought the picture should have been run. While it is graphic, it grabs the reader’s attention and doesn’t show the victim’s face – or much of the body, for that matter.

    After reading the story, I was more on the fence. The article provided extensive detail that described the picture well enough that a photo wasn’t absolutely necessary. On the other hand, the photo was eye-catching and brought on more emotion than words alone.

    If I were to run the photo at all, I wouldn’t run it on the front page. While, as I said, the photo certainly is attention-grabbing, I don’t think it’s appropriate for a newspaper that would be on newsstands in front of children and others who may be offended. I also clicked through the short slideshow of three photos with the article, and those pictures were much more viewer-friendly. I think those photos would be much better for a newspaper’s front page, and they still provide the reader with an idea of the environment described in the article.

  12. John Schreier
    February 12, 2009 at 12:15 am

    I just don’t have it in me to run a photo of a dead body under any circumstances. I think it’s very disrespectful to the person and his family and friends. The dead should be left alone, and I think it may offend families with children.

    The story tempted me to run the picture. Inner-city Detroit is a bleak place, and the photo illustrates that perfectly. The near indifference to finding a body is disheartening, and the rough life of Detroit apparently has left the city practically devoid of emotion. Does the picture capture the situation? Almost perfectly. But is it ethical to run a picture of a dead body? It’s an issue of respect, and I don’t believe it is. As Krista said, the other photos that accompanied the article give a good picture of the true situation.

  13. Katy Healey
    February 12, 2009 at 12:57 am

    I certainly would not have run the photo prior to reading the article. The photo seemed insensitive and unnecessary, especially without context. After reading the article, I was more inclined to publish the photo. However, I still would opt not to. Photographs of that nature should move the reader, not shock them. It seemed like the newspaper was simply trying to grab the reader’s attention rather then report the news. The other pictures included in the story would suffice because they tell the same story without being disrespectful. It is difficult for me to imagine a situation that absolutely required a picture of a dead body. It is rarely in good taste. I would hope that the reporters who covered the story would be able to paint a picture for readers using their words, not a controversial photo.

  14. Mekita Rivas
    February 12, 2009 at 1:27 am

    My response is very similar to Katy’s. When I first saw the picture, my immediate reaction was that I wouldn’t run it because it seemed almost unnecessarily gruesome. On its own, I would envision the picture to be a part of an investigative photo report on the ice situation in Detroit. With context and after reading the story, I realized the photo can get away with being published, but I don’t believe any photo should have to rely on the story to speak. A true, artful photograph captures a moment that we as an audience can immediately have some sort of sentiment toward. Whether that sentiment is exuberance, regret, lamentation or whatever else, we know it when we feel it. When I look at this photo of a dead guy’s legs sticking like stems from the ground, I don’t know how to feel. Undoubtedly, the death of a man is tragic, but other than knowing he is dead, what else do I know? In short, this photo is not only insensitive, it is uninformative. So many people die every day. Each death can be regarded as devastating. BUT WHY? Don’t just show me the devastation, show me why it happened that way. Until a photo can explain such context on its own, it isn’t exactly front page-worthy.

  15. Andrea Vasquez
    February 12, 2009 at 2:17 am

    I was more open minded about running this picture before I read the story. At first, I had to zoom in because I couldn’t make out what I was seeing. Once I realized what the picture was, I thought it could be tame enough to run – since there was no gore or graphic wounds – depending on the story. But after I read the article, I thought the picture was unnecessary, despite it being unusual and the center of the story. I think the writer’s detailed description was enough and did not need to be accompanied by the photo. Although the picture shows nothing gory or explicit, as I said , the focus of the story didn’t override the eerie implications of two feet sticking straight out of a block of ice.

  16. Stephen Youngerman
    February 12, 2009 at 2:48 am

    Upon first glance, I was wondering why we were writing about a pile of trash and rubble. But once I saw the feet I was pretty sure I’d remember this image for the rest of my life. That sounds pretty serious but its true. It literally looks like a book cover for a Stephen King novel. Without reading the article or knowing the context of the situation I would not have run this photo.
    Then I read the story.
    Knowing that he’s homeless is the biggest factor in the decision. The fact that nobody was looking for him or there to speak on his behalf made the decision much easier for the editor. There were no family members to offend, and no friends of family etc.. Had this person been of any other walk of life, this picture would be disgusting and cruel.
    Just this faceless, nameless human that could help bring awareness to the faceless, nameless homeless community. The picture evokes strong emotions that seem to capsize the entire written story into just a sick feeling in my stomach. I choose to run the photo with the story, and believe it’s justified because behind it is a cause for change that outweighs the grotesque image.

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