Pictures of dead Haitians

After the earthquake last week, one of my students asked why news organizations had no compunction about showing images of dead Haitians amid the rubble of Port-au-Prince, images that clearly showed their faces, images through which family members elsewhere in the world could easily identify victims. She recalled that U.S. news organizations declined to show footage of people jumping to their deaths from the World Trade Center towers on 9/11, which led to a discussion of the controversy over news photos of dead soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why, she asked, was this sensitivity to survivors’ feelings, or to what some have called the dignity of the dead, abandoned in the case of the Haitian earthquake victims?

Why, indeed?

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