Chapter Four
Victims of Violence


Paul Martin Lester

Photojournalism An Ethical Approach

(c) 1999

Violence and tragedy are staples of American journalism because readers are attracted to gruesome stories and photographs. "If it bleeds, it leads" is an undesirable rule of thumb. Judges of contests also have a fatal attraction. Pulitzer Prizes are most often awarded to photographers who make pictures of gruesome, dramatic moments (Goodwin, 1983). Milwaukee Journal editor Sig Gissler summed up the newspaper profession's sometimes Hedonistic philosophy when he admitted, "We have a commercial interest in catastrophe" ("Knocking on death's door," 1989, p. 49).

Ethical problems arise for photographers and editors because readers are also repulsed by such events. It is as if readers want to know that tragic circumstances take place, but do not want to face the uncomfortable details.

After the publication of a controversial picture that shows, for example, either dead or grieving victims of violence, readers in telephone calls and in letters to the editor, often attack the photographer as being tasteless and adding to the anguish of those involved. As one writer noted, "The American public has a morbid fascination with violence and tragedy, yet this same public accuses journalists of being insensitive and cynical and of exploiting victims of tragedy" (Brown, 1987, p. 80).

The Immediate Impact of Images

Photographs have long been known to spark more emotional responses than stories. Eugene Goodwin (1983) in his book, Groping for Ethics agreed. Goodwin wrote, "Pictures usually have more impact on people than written words. Their capacity to shock exceeds that of language" (p. 190). Other researchers have noted the eye catching ability of newspaper photographs. Miller (1975) wrote, "Photos are among the first news items to catch the reader's eye. . . . A photo may catch the eye of a reader who doesn't read an accompanying story" (p. 72). Blackwood (1983) argued that "People who either can't read, or who don't take the time to read many of the stories in newspapers do scan the photographs . . . " (p. 711). Nora Ephron (1978) asserted that disturbing accident images should be printed. "That they disturb readers," Ephron wrote, "is exactly as it should be: that's why photojournalism is often more powerful than written journalism" (p. 62).

When U.S. servicemen were killed in Iran during the 1980 attempt to rescue American hostages, gruesome images of the char-red bodies were transmitted to American newspapers. Ombudsman George Beveridge of the defunct Washington Star defended his paper's publication of the photographs by writing, "newspapers were obliged to print them because they gave readers a dimension of understanding of the situation and the people involved that written words could not possibly convey" (cited in Gordon, 1980, p. 25). For Beveridge, if photographs accurately and dramatically document a news event, even though their content may be gruesome, those pictures should be printed. Beveridge is probably using the Categorical Imperative philosophy. Nevertheless, newspapers received hundreds of calls and letters protesting the use of the images. A Mississippi newspaper editor tore the pictures up when he saw them because he explained it would have been "the poorest kind of taste to display those ghastly pictures" (p. 28). The editor was most likely guided by the Golden Rule philosophy.


Because a photograph can immediately shock, educate, or enlighten a reader, visual impact has long been used by journalists. The emotional impact of the first war covered by photographs, the Crimean War, was low by today's standards. Roger Fenton, forced to use the slow film and lenses of that day, captured only static portraits and battlefield images. If Fenton's motivation for taking pictures was to educate the public, he was employing a Utilitarian perspective. Mathew Brady, recognized for his portraits of famous politicians that included President Lincoln, spent his entire family's income to employ photographers to document the Civil War. Brady hoped the pictures would be purchased in galleries for peoples' home photo albums or by the government. If Brady's guiding philosophy, as a businessman, was to make money from the pictures, he used the Hedonistic philosophy. Americans, however, had grown weary of the wrenching Civil War that divided the nation. Few were interested in static pictures taken with slow film and lenses of battlefield configurations, portraits of soldiers, and bodies mutilated by the arms of destruction.

Jacob Riis Illustrates His Words

Danish immigrant, Jacob Riis, a reporter for the New York World, saw what he considered to be inhumane treatment of the nation's poor and homeless by an insensitive government bureaucracy in the later part of the 19th century. He wrote of the dire conditions unfortunate individuals face on the streets of New York for his newspaper. He became frustrated when, despite favorable reception to his articles, relief for the poor never came. Riis decided that photographs were necessary to show public officials and the general public the horror of the back alleys and the flop houses. Riis, along with photographers he hired, most notably, Richard Hoe Lawrence, made photographs that brought light (literally magnesium powder that was ignited) to the dank, dark, dingy police stations and saloons. Riis gave public lectures, this time with images mounted on glass slides. The impact of his visual message shaped public opinion and helped make changes. Shortly thereafter, Riis published one of the first books to combine words and pictures in a documentary format, How the Other Half Lives (cited in Pollack, 1977, p. 91).

The Era of Sensationalism

The turn of the century brought the highlight of yellow or "Front Page" style journalism. Visual images played a crucial part in this era known for its sensationalism. Frank Mott (1962), in his history of journalism, noted that the reporting of crime news and disasters with the "lavish use of pictures" was a factor that helped define the yellow journalism period (p. 539).

Publishers such as William Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer were locked into a bitter circulation struggle. Their use of shocking and gruesome photographs, regularly featured large on their front pages, was imitated by other publishers throughout the country. The popular belief of the day was that potential newspaper buyers looking for visual amusement, would be attracted to pages filled with photographs. Such a money-oriented, Hedonistic philosophy, contributed to an era where any type of visually stimulating event was fair game for an enterprising photographer. Much of the poor reputation bestowed upon the photojournalism profession was a result of excesses during this time.

Collier magazine photojournalist, Jimmy Hare produced striking images of the Spanish-American War. Fellow reporter, Cecil Carnes wrote that Hare "photographed swollen bodies with bones breaking through the skin; he took pictures of the emancipated living, and of the babies ravaged by disease (cited in Edom, 1976, p. 3 1). Such images were not used by publishers to educate or explain the war to readers, but to drum up support for a controversial conflict.

Joseph Costa of the New York Daily News, shocked readers with his sneaked picture of a man whipped in a Baltimore jail for beating his wife (cited in Edom, 1976). He later made up for his young recklessness by becoming the first president of the NPPA and teaching photojournalism at universities.

Although many of their images were censored by government officials, photographers during World War II produced many dramatic visual documents. A picture cooperative was formed by Acme, Associated Press, International News, and Life magazine to cover land and sea battles for use in publications. Photographers such as Gene Smith and Robert Capa were famous for capturing emotionally charged moments.

One photograph that was delayed for several weeks by censors concerned for the public's reaction was published inLife. Captioned, "Here lie three Americans . . . ." George Strock's shocking picture of the maggot covered bodies of U.S. servicemen face down in the sand of a distant island's beach was the first picture of killed American soldiers published in a U.S. magazine. Many readers were stunned by the visually graphic image. But Susan Moeller (1989) in her chronicle of war photography, Shooting War, noted that many soldiers praised the photograph and the accompanying editorial. A lieutenant wrote, "Your Picture of the Week is a terrible thing, but I'm glad that there is one American magazine which had the courage to print it." A private wrote, "This editorial is the first thing I have read that gives real meaning to our struggle" (p. 207).

World War II was the last major conflict in which photographers were on the same side as the government. The Korean and Vietnam Wars produced films and photographs that brought home the terror like never before on a daily basis. David Douglas Duncan produced sensitive, almost romantic portraits of American servicemen in Korea. Duncan was criticized for his many sanitized views of war by those who thought Americans at home should know the realities of war-that men were dying. Gradually, Duncan came to reject the government's handling of the war and took an anti-war position. Many critics, however, mistook his pro-soldier pictures for a pro-war attitude.

The Disturbing Images from Vietnam

Perhaps due to political uncertainty about America's role or a younger crop of photojournalists who were willing to show the worst moments, films and still pictures from the Vietnam War were the most graphically brutal in war-time photographic history. Many photographs taken during the Vietnam War not only startled, but were responsible for helping to change the American public's opinion against that conflict.

In the Spring of 1963, Malcolm Browne of the Associated Press, received a telephone call to come to a public memorial service for Buddhist monks. Eight people had been killed during a recent demonstration against the South Vietnamese government's crackdown on their religion. The series of pictures he made at that service is unforgettable. In deliberate silence, two monks poured gasoline on a sitting third monk and set the man on fire. Browne made pictures of violent flames that engulfed the protester who never uttered a sound. Horrified readers in the world's newspapers viewed this series the next day (cited in Faber, 1983, p. 10).

Eddie Adams' frozen moment of death is another unforgettable instant. In the Winter of 1968, General Nguyen Loan, the chief of police for the city of Saigon, fired his revolver through the temple of a Viet Cong soldier. The soldier was suspected in the killing of Loan's best friend, a police major, and knifing to death the major's wife and six children. At 1/500th of a second, Adams captured the swift judgment and brutal execution of a policeman's prisoner and sparked additional protest against America's involvement in the war. According to Time magazine photographer, Bill Pierce (1983), Adams never accepted the Pulitzer Prize money or seldom talks publicly about the image.

Huynh Cong "Nick" Ut's terrifying image of young children running toward the camera with open mouths and fire scorched arms held awkwardly away from their sides is all the more horrible when it is known that their injuries were a result of an accidental napalm attack by South Vietnamese forces. The girl in the picture, Kim Phuc, and Ut were happily reunited 17 years after the picture was taken in Havana, Cuba (Wilson, 1989).

Violent Photographs of the 1960s

During this same turbulent decade, visual images continued to isolate some of the most strikingly terrifying moments in American history. Bob Jackson of the Dallas Times-Herald captured the political assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald by the man with the gray hat and the easily concealed revolver, Jack Ruby. Jackson's awful moment is an American icon. In one picture, it shows the hunched determination of the assassin, the painful gasp of the handcuffed victim, and the shock of helplessness on the face of a policeman.

Bill Eppridge and Boris Yaro were both covering Robert Kennedy's campaign speech after the California presidential primary. For many persons, Kennedy symbolized the hope that America would overcome the shock of a presidential assassination, a seemingly endless and costly foreign war, riots in cities across the country, and finally, the assassination of the leading African-American spokesman, Martin Luther King, two months previously. Who can forget, amid the technical problems of harsh lighting and the grainy appearance of push-processed film, the image of a caring busboy cradling the head of a man he never met. The loss seen on his face symbolizes all the world's loss.

In the Bible belt of America, John Filo, a college student with a borrowed camera, summed up many Americans' anguish over the Vietnam War in one angry photograph. The National Guard was called to the campus of Kent State University in Ohio to quiet a series of demonstrations against military involvement in Vietnam and Cambodia in 1970. Filo captured the image of Mary Vecchio kneeling over the bloodied body of Jeffery Miller. Vecchio seems to be screaming the hauntingly simple question, "Why?"

Vecchio, a 14-year-old runaway from Florida, was accused by Florida's Governor Claude Kirk of being planted by the Communists. The notoriety brought media attention to her subsequent troubles with the law. It was reported, for example, when she ran away from home again, when she was sent to a juvenile home, and when she was arrested for loitering and marijuana possession. She later admitted that the picture "destroyed my life" (Bell, 1990).

Interestingly, moving films shown to television audiences were made at the same time during the Adams, Ut, Jackson, and other dramatic news events, but it is the powerful stillness of the frozen, decisive moment that lives in the consciousness of all who have seen the photographs. The pictures are testaments to the power and the sanctity of the still, visual image. Malcolm Mallette (1976) wrote that "the electronic image flickers and is gone. The frozen moment . . . remains. It can haunt. It can hurt and hurt again. It can also leave an indelible message about the betterment of society, the end of war, the elimination of hunger, the alleviation of human misery" (p. 120).

The Public Suicide of Budd Dwyer

Editors have noticed that when emotionally charged and gruesome pictures come from a local event, readers react the strongest. A mother grieving over a drowned child in Bangladesh will not produce the same level of reactions as an identical subject in a reader's home town.

Pennsylvania State Treasurer, Budd Dwyer had just been convicted of bribery. Journalists from several newspapers, news services, and television stations gathered around a small podium that sat on a table expecting to hear Dwyer announce his resignation from state government. What they heard were the long, rambling last words of a seriously troubled man. Dwyer pulled out a .357 magnum, long barrel pistol, waved back reporters, stuck the revolver in his mouth, pulled the trigger and ended his torment. His desperate act also created torment with editors around the country who were left with some hard questions: Should any pictures be used? Should more graphic or less graphic pictures be used? Should only one or a complete series of pictures be printed? On what page should the pictures be displayed? How large should the pictures be? Should color or black-and-white pictures be used?

Journalism researcher Robert Baker (1988) found that among the 93 daily newspapers he studied, "Newspapers more than 200 miles away from the victim's hometown were two-and-a-half times as likely to use the 'very graphic' photographs than those within 100 miles" (p. 21). Editors were more likely to use the most gruesome images the further they were from the event.

Robert Kochersberger (1988), another journalism researcher, also looked at the Dwyer suicide photo use. He found a trend toward sensitivity to the publishing of the graphic suicide pictures. For him, this result may suggest the "abandoning [of I the time-worn patterns of 'Front Page'-style journalism that would have called for using the graphic photos with little second thought" (p. 9).

As evidence of this new sensitivity, Kochersberger cited two editors. "Jess Garber, managing editor of the Record Herald, Waynesboro, PA., wrote, 'I believe in the public's right to know but am not sure that carries to seeing a distraught person blowing his brains out' " (p. 8). "John Wellington, managing editor of the Meadville Tribune, published in Dwyer's home town, wrote . . . 'Would anyone with half a whit of common sense want graphic suicide pictures imposed on his or her children? I would not' " (p. 9).

Apparently, many editors disagreed with Garber and Wellington. Baker's (1988) data shows that "very graphic" suicide photographs were used by up to 58% of newspapers in his survey in one of his demographic categories. Editors that used the ,'very graphic" images justified their publication with statements such as, "'Photos had tremendous impact as a news story' " and "'We used the photo to show a bizarre news event. It's not normal for a person to shoot himself at the end of a news conference' " (Kochersberger, 1988, p. 7-8). Once again, opposing philosophies are at work. One group of editors would most likely side with the Veil of Ignorance or Golden Rule philosophies. Another group would probably side with the Categorical Imperative philosophy.

Reasons for Reader Reactions

Some writers fear that readers become callused by the many images of the dead and dying shown in the media. Bill Hodge (1989), past president of the NPPA, recently wrote, "There's a change occurring among our audiences. I see a desensitized viewer and reader that is harder to offend or shock. They seem to be more immune to-or more interested in-shocking things" (p. 14). Hodge cited such "Trash TV" shows led by Geraldo Rivera and Oprah Winfrey that regularly feature programs that test the public's sensitivity.

There is some concern among professionals that the real culprit in the controversy over gruesome images is not the content, but whether the picture is printed in color. Readers of the Minneapolis Star Tribune complained about several graphically descriptive pictures that were printed in color. One caller said, "Color should be something beautiful." Another reader complained that an image of a bleeding Arab mayor "needed black and white." Lou Gelfand (1989), ombudsman for the Star Tribune reported that former chief photographer, Earl Seubert "says color is the cause of most of the response. Some of the . . . pictures ran in black-and-white in an early edition and looked comparatively dull." Color may be a contributing factor to a reader's reaction, but readers are still moved by dramatic black-and-white content.

Many readers, editors note, complain when a graphically violent picture is published in the morning, rather than the evening paper. For some readers, there is a sacredness about the first meal of the day. A typical response can be found from a Minneapolis reader who admitted, "I can't handle that kind of picture with breakfast" (Gelfand, 1989, p. 12).

Another contributing factor to a reader's negative reaction to a controversial photograph is the reader's perception of the respect given to the victim and the family. An image of a photographer at a funeral wearing blue jeans and an open-collared shirt and hovering over a casket with a wide-angle tens for a close-up, gives readers the impression that the photographer has little respect for the subject. Of course, an editor will seldom print that uncomplimentary portrait.

An editor can show disrespect in the eyes of some readers, however, by running a picture extremely large on the front page or with only a brief caption explanation. Readers associate the importance given to a photograph with a story that accompanies it. When readers objected to a picture of a man killing a calf with a pistol during a mass slaughter of cattle during a protest over the cost of raising beef, Bill Cento of the St. Paul Dispatch and Pioneer Press said, "The story ran across the top of page one, but we ran the picture inside. A mistake, I believe. The words are needed to tell why it was done. The picture most forcefully tells that it was done" (Mallette, 1976, p. 118). Whenever possible, stories and photographs should be located on the same page.

One heartening note: Readers will voice their negative comments about a picture regardless of the victim's race or gender characteristics. Readers seem to be equal opportunity commentators. Many of the most controversial images printed in newspapers in the past 15 years have received reader wrath with subjects who were men, women, African-American, Asian, Caucasian, or Hispanic.


One of the best ways for an editor to learn if readers have grown callused and insensitive is to take note of the calls and letters produced after the printing of a controversial image. When an image offends, an editor knows of it quickly. It is almost reassuring, then, to learn that photographs still have the power to offend readers-particularly an image of a drowned child with distraught family members standing over the body.

The editors of the Bakersfield Californian, an 80,000-circulation newspaper, heard loud and clear the anger of readers over a remarkable photograph. The paper received 500 letters, 400 phone calls, 80 subscription cancellations, and one bomb threat. Such a reader reaction is extraordinary given the paper's size. National columnist Bob Greene (cited in Gordon, 1986) wrote, "The picture should never have been published; in a way I hope you can understand, it was pornography." For Greene the picture, "epitomized . . . everything that is wrong about what we in this business do" (p. 19).

The controversy at the Californian was reminiscent of other disturbing photographs that are printed from time to time and objected to by the nation's newspaper readers. Stan Forman, then with the Boston Herald-American, captured a tragic moment with his 135mm lens. A woman and her young niece are frozen by the fast shutter speed in a fall from a faulty fire escape's metal platform. The woman was killed, while the child was saved because she landed on her aunt's body. One critic said the picture was a "tasteless breach of privacy" ("Tasteless breach," 1986, p. 27).

Maria Rosas of the Miami Herald made a self-admitted shocking photograph of a lifeless, nude Haitian man from a group of 33 who were drowned while trying to reach the safety of Florida. Callers characterized the picture as "vulgar, racist and sensationalistic" ("Readers object," 1982, p. 2). Nudity, the fact that the picture was in color, and that it was used large on the front page were contributing factors in the protest. From a helicopter's overhead perspective, George Wedding made a striking photograph of the body of 11-year-old Andy Karr lying face-up in the back of an ash-filled pickup truck, a victim of Mt. St. Helen's powerful force (see Student Workbook for this photograph). Readers called the image "callous, insensitive, gross, cruel, tacky, in very poor taste, barbaric, unimaginable, and repulsive" (Gordon, 1980, p. 25). With all three pictures, editors most likely justified them with the Categorical Imperative philosophy-the image described the tragic event like no combination of words ever could. Text Added, October, 2004: [But utilitarianism could also be evoked by editors since the images educated the public about unsafe fire escapes that should be inspected, dramatically told the results of living conditions in Haiti that led to such desperate acts, and clearly showed the tragic results if the public failed to heed warnings from governmental officials.] With all three pictures, readers more often objected to them with the Golden Rule philosophy-the images contributed to the victim's family grief or upset readers who would rather not see such tragic events.

With a caption head titled, "A family's anguish," there is no doubt that John Harte's photograph of young, lifeless, 5-year-old, Edward Romero, halfway zippered in a dark, plastic body bag with family members crying and a bystander awkwardly reaching for one of the survivors, is a powerful and disturbing image. Under the outstretched arms and objections from a deputy sheriff, Harte made the picture with a 24mm lens from about 5 feet away. Harte admitted that the family scene was a "get-at-any-cost picture" and the most dramatic moment he had ever photographed. For Harte, his motivation was probably the Categorical Imperative philosophy-a dramatic, human tragedy should always be the subject of pictures.

After a discussion with Harte's weekend duty editor and the managing editor, Robert Bentley, who was called in to make a decision on the photograph, the editors ran the picture on an inside page agreeing with Harte's Categorical Imperative philosophy. Bentley also employed the Utilitarian approach. One other young boy had drowned on the same day. Clearly the swimming area was a dangerous spot that the editors felt the public needed to know about with Harte's dramatic image (Gordon, 1986).

A storm of protest from readers immediately followed and Bentley changed his position. In a column titled, "What should give way when news values collide with reader sensibilities?" Bentley admitted, "We make mistakes-and this clearly was a big one." Wrote Bentley, "The damage done to the memory of the late Edward Romero . . . and to the offended sensitivities of Californian readers cannot be undone. It can only be followed by sincere apologies and deep company-wide introspection" (Gordon, 1986, p. 19). Bentley now advocated the Golden Rule philosophy, shared by a majority of his readers, to justify his changed position. Not all the letters were negative, however. Connie Hoppe wrote:

I was horrified [by Harte's photograph], but I felt the item was newsworthy.... that picture was real-maybe a little more real to me because my own 21/2-year-old son drowned. . . . If maybe just one parent saw that picture of the grieving family and drowning victim and has taken more precautions around pool and beach areas because of it, then that picture may have saved another child's life. (Gordon, 1986, p. 23)
Bill Hodge (1989) reported that in the 2 months prior to the boy's death, 14 people had drowned. In the month following the controversy, only 2 drowned. The newspaper and the photographer had to take the wrath of an angry readership who either did not want to be faced with a real tragedy of life or they sincerely were concerned about the rights to privacy for the Romero family. Whatever the rationale, lives were probably saved by the newspaper's coverage.

Ethics Codes Arguments

Ethical conduct may be guided by codes established by newspapers and professional organizations, but ethical codes cannot anticipate every situation. Consequently, the language of codes is hopeful, yet vague. For example, the "Code of Ethics" that all members of the NPPA must sign does not specifically mention gruesome situations (see Appendix A). The ethics code does contain phrases such as photographers "should at all times maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct," photojournalism "is worthy of the very best thought and effort," and members should "maintain high standards of ethical conduct."

Some would argue that codes should be ambiguous. Elliott-Boyle (1985-1986) wrote that "codes can provide working journalists with statements of minimums and perceived ideals" (p. 25). When a journalist uses highly questionable practices that are outside standard behavior, the offending reporter can be held accountable.

Others argue, however, that ethics codes should be less idealistic and more specific particularly with regards to the "exploitation of grief." In his 1986 article, George Padgett (1985-1986) asserted that vague ethical codes and brief textbook treatment of photojournalism ethical issues do not adequately provide guidelines for dealing with pictures of grieving victims. Without such guidelines, he wrote, regulation by the courts may classify grief pictures as invasions of privacy. "The problem should be addressed," wrote Padgett, "while it is still an ethical rather than a legal issue" (p. 56).

Conditions That Cause a Reader Firestorm

When confronting situations and photographs of accident and tragedy victims, journalists are tom between the right to tell the story and the right NOT to tell the story. Arguments by well meaning professional journalists can be made for and against the taking and publishing or the not taking and not publishing of almost any photograph. Curtis MacDougall (197 1) in his visually graphic book, News Pictures Fit to Print . . . Or Are They? argued that news pictures sometimes need to be offensive in order to better educate the public. He wrote, "If it were in the public interest to offend good taste, I would offend good taste" (p. vii). The problem comes, of course, when journalists disagree on what is in the public's interest.

From the examples just given, it can be generalized that readers are more likely to object to a controversial picture if:

* it was taken by a staff photographer,
* it comes from a local story,
* the image is printed in color,
* the image is printed in a morning paper,
* the image is printed on the front page,
* it has no story accompaniment,
* it shows people overcome with grief,
* it shows the victim's body,
* the body is physically traumatized,
* the victim is a child, and
* nudity is involved.

If five or more of these conditions apply, editors should prepare themselves for reader reactions before the firestorm hits. Staff photographers and writers should be selected to help answer phone calls and letters. Editors should prepare notes for a column that justifies the decision. As many letters to the editor and telephone transcripts as possible should be printed. Readers may not agree, but most will respect the decision if the response to the controversy is prompt and the justification is consistent.

Michael Josephson, president of the Josephson Institute for the Advancement of Ethics, has suggested that editors and ombudsmen write "early warning notes" to readers that a controversial story is about to be printed. The note could describe the reasoning that led editors to print a controversial picture. Such a practice might head-off public misunderstanding about the intent of printing an image that may be graphically violent or intense. Public Editor Kerry Sipe of the Virginia-Pilot and Ledger-Star wrote a column on the same day a child-abuse story ran. The paper only received one call from a reader who said the story should not have run. "If he had not written his column, Sipe said, he was sure that he would have received many more" (Cunningham, 1989, p. 10).

To better understand what is the right course of action, a journalist should be familiar with the trends prevalent in newspapers and magazines, know what the readers think is acceptable for publication, and have a strong, personal ethical background.

Professional organizations and the literature that is produced by them give journalists a good idea of where photojournalism has been and where it is likely to head.

Discussions with a newspaper's ombudsman or editor, who receive many of the complaints, will help to determine the aspects of photographic coverage and publication most objectionable to readers. Guest lectures or formalized town meetings by journalists with concerned citizens will create a dialogue with readers that will help determine the acceptance level of controversial images.

Finally, personal reflection will help balance the sometimes conflicting goals of publishing the news while being sensitive to the feelings of subjects and readers. A photographer's personal ethics are influenced by many factors: family and religious upbringing, educational opportunities, professional associations, career goals, day-to-day experiences, and co-workers.

Nora Ephron (1978) in her book, Scribble Scribble Notes on the Media, devoted a chapter to a description and reaction to Stan Forman's fire escape tragedy. Ephron concluded that "I recognize that printing pictures of corpses raises all sorts of problems about taste and titillation and sensationalism; the fact is, however, that people die. Death happens to be one of life's main events. And it is irresponsible and more than that, inaccurate-for newspapers to fail to show it . . ." (p. 61).

A photojournalist's mission is to report all the news objectively, fairly, and accurately. The profession can only improve in quality and stature if photographers are mindful of those they see in their viewfinders and those they seldom see, their readers. Decisions, however, should be guided, never ruled, by readers.