Guerrero’s piece and should you print it?
In 2004 I was walking down the road on my way to Atocha station to take a train to Toledo. It was the morning of the explosion, to which I arrived shortly after.
The image of Guerrero has implications for the public that was published in Spain. The fact that it was censored in other places I find curious. Is it that some cultures can stomach graphic imagery more than others, or is it that in general the news puts a criteria down for the images as to wether or not it is informative or adds to the appreciation of what is going on? Either way, if I had of been the editor under these circumstances I may well of published the whole original picture. My reason for this is the context. The context was a terrorist attack in reaction to the presence of Spanish military occupation and participation in a war. The troops quickly withdrew after this attack as the president of Spain at the time did not wish for more reprisals. On the one hand, it is simply enough to leave the event to the imagination. A bomb going off does not necessarily need to be fully photographed, although the full carnage often is. People have enough imagination to see the effects of a bomb attack in their minds eye. On the other hand, perhaps there was such strong feeling that the Spanish participation in a war was not valid, that the editors wanted to show what happens as a consequence of war participation.
Should you print it?
After reading Ignatieff’s article I think that I have a clearer sense of understanding around the circumstances for printing a particular kind of photo. The ethical dimension here related to the humanity of the photo, effects of the public and the level of informativeness or lack thereof of the image in relations to the story. This to me seems a clear set of values for taking or not taking a particular photo. Surely there are many grey areas in this field. But in general it seems fare to conclude that it needs to be something that informs the story, and by all accounts this was the editor’s conclusion: to show that we are all to some extent complicit in these wars, but participating in a particular lifestyle and value set which means that it has to be defended.