Death of a War Correspondent
The world of Polish journalism is roiling this week over the publication of very graphic photographs of the death of war correspondent Waldemar Milewicz in the Polish tabloid Super Express in its Saturday, May 8 editions.
Milewicz, a reporter for Polish State Television, and production assistant Mounir Bouamrane were shot and killed in Iraq. According to a CNN report, "Milewicz and his Polish-Algerian colleague Bouamrane were traveling from the Iraqi capital to the central city of Hillah when their vehicle came under heavy fire, a Polish Embassy spokesman told CNN.
"Jerzy Ernst, a cameraman for Poland's state-run TVP network, was wounded in Friday's attack, which took place 30 kms south of Baghdad near Mahmoudiyah, the official said. An Italian journalist traveling in the same direction said the driver of the car was also wounded."
Following the publication of the photographs, a number of journalists and news organizations, particularly broadcasters, drafted an open letter of condemnation aimed at Super Express and its editor, Mariusz Ziomecki. The publication quickly became the subject of talk shows and launched an intense internal debate among leading media figures, politicians, and journalists.
Meanwhile, Rzeczpospolita, a leading political and financial newspaper half-owned by the Polish government and half-owned by Orkla of Norway also on Saturday published a graphic photograph from the murder scene. There seems to have been little ire aimed at Rzeczpospolita, whose photos were, in my opinion, less graphic but still rather shocking.
Click here to view images from the front pages of Poland's four major dailies. There is also an English translation of the "open letter" signed by journalists and news organizations expressing outrage at the publication of these images.
Would you have printed the pictures that Super Express printed?
Is there a kind of double standard at work here insofar as the furor among other journalists is concerned? Are those who signed the open letter overreacting because the subject was one of their own?
How do you feel about "journalists sanctioning journalists," as the open letter functions this way? Is that a good or bad thing?
What are the key value considerations that go into making such decisions and how can publications and journalists create processes for such tough decision-making?
This material appears courtesy of the Modern Media Institute (MMI), which is based in Naklo, Poland. Kehrt Reyher, CEO of the Institute and a participant in Poynter leadership seminars, modeled MMI in part on The Poynter Institute, formerly known as the Modern Media Institute.