There is considerable controversy about the decision by the Associated Press to distribute a photograph of a Marine killed in combat in Afghanistan. I’ve written extensively about war coverage over the years, and I spoke with MSNBC on Friday about the news organization’s decision in this case.
Based on what I know, the Associated Press went through a purposeful, thoughtful process in deciding to distribute this photo, and I believe that the AP’s decision was journalistically sound and ethically justifiable.
Importantly, the Associated Press photo is accompanied by a substantive, sensitive AP story that recounts the battle in which Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard was wounded. That story also tells us a good deal about Bernard, including comments from his father and fellow Marines in his squad. Together, the story and the photograph paint a more complete picture of this fallen Marine.
The AP’s decision was undoubtedly made more difficult by an important step it took in determining if, how and when to distribute the photo. Read more