America, Boston Marathon Attacks, Controvery, Death, Dying, government, Homicide, Journalism, Life Lessons, Loss, Politics, Self Improvement, Terrorism

In Defense of Real Journalism

This blog is a companion to the last blog I wrote titled The Boston Marathon Explosion in Pictures.

What would the world be without technology? At the click of a button, people can find monotonous amounts of information. When Alexander Bell invented the telephone, he probably had no idea what that would one day become. Nowadays people can carry mini computers in their pockets that make phone calls. I know because I have the “phablet” Samsung Galaxy Note II. These phones take pictures, surf the internet, transmit data and many other things. In a moment, people can capture anything on a device and upload it to Facebook, Twitter and various other social media environments.

Photo credits to Bill Hoenk of TIME Magazine http://www.time.com
Photo credits to Bill Hoenk featured in  TIME Magazine
http://www.time.com

That’s a far cry from the cameras of old.

Photography is changing and photojournalism is changing as well. Journalists used to hope and pray that they would get notice of an event, whether it be good or bad before their competition found out the information. Nowadays, everybody has access to all kinds of information, so it’s a chronic rush to publish before the competition. But, it’s important to cover the truth and only the truth.

Whether one likes it or not, the journalists cannot always capture the good moments. This world is full of tragedy and it’s up to them to capture those pictures as well.

Time Magazine just released the front cover of their newest edition and it features a little boy crying with blood in his hair. He was a victim of the Boston Marathon attacks. Now many of you may be disgusted by this image, while some of you may be moved by it.

But this little boy is a face of millions of children in the United States; the millions of children that could have been on that cover if they were in Boston that day. This little boy is lucky to be alive and people are upset that he graces the cover.

Why?

Tragedies aren’t supposed to be easy to look at. Tragedies are supposed to remind us that life is precious and that we need to live every day with purpose. Tragedies remind us that we aren’t invincible. The United States may be a great nation, but the people of America need to remember that there is not such thing as invincibility or being untouchable.

But the thing is, it’s always been like this in the world of photojournalism. Even back to the Vietnam War and way before that. Journalists have been capturing the truth for a number of years and they have faced scrutiny for it many times.

Photo credit to Kim Phuc. Found on: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/05/in_pictures_the_vietnam_war_/html/5.stm
Photo credit to Kim Phuc. Found on: http://news.bbc.co.uk/

Many people do not realize the problems photojournalists face. Photojournalists are there to document events as they happen without any interference. Why with no interference? Well, because that compromises the validity of the story. I was taught in my ethics class by Russell Frank at the Pennsylvania State University that it is completely unethical to change a situation or interact in a situation that you are documenting. That is both in writing and in photography. The only, and I mean absolutely only time anyone should intervene is to prevent death. Otherwise, journalists are supposed to be flies on the wall of their situations. Journalists have a duty to their readers to present nothing but truth and facts. No person wants to read a story and find out that the journalist lied, and no one wants to see a picture that was staged or extremely photoshopped. It’s not truth, therefore there is no room for it in the journalism world.

Photojournalists have been capturing those hard moments for a number of years. Quite frequently photojournalists are placed in war zones with the American troops to send images back to their news companies for publication. Sometimes those images can be quite graphic. But that’s their duty. War is not pretty and if any of you out there are so blinded that you think it is, you are sadly mistake. People die, people bleed and it can be hard saying good-bye to your fellow brothers in arms. Some photojournalists have been taken hostage or even killed. Lisa Ling and Euna Lee were captured in North Korea in 2009 and put into a prison until Former President Bill Clinton traveled to North Korea to negotiate their release.

How many of you have traveled to document something and been put into prison?

Photo Credit to Eddie Adams during the Vietnam War. Found at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/05/in_pictures_the_vietnam_war_/html/6.stm
Photo Credit to Eddie Adams during the Vietnam War. Found at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/

People also forget that they seek information and sometimes that means getting what you do not want to see. Online mediums often place disclaimers to their graphic content.

But is it really their job to protect people from the truth?

When the planes crashed in to the Twin Towers, Pentagon and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, photojournalists faced similar dilemmas that those of the Boston Marathon attacks faced:
“What am I walking in to?”
“I must separate my feelings from my job.”
“It’s my job to report the whole truth.”

Can you imagine walking out the front door with a camera or a pen and notebook in your hand hearing that these tragedies occurred?

Think about that for one second. Your loved one could be in one of those buildings that may fall to the ground..

And you have to do your job.

Maybe photojournalists aren’t so bad after all. Maybe they’re just trying to make a living like the other millions of Americans in this country.

A lot of people argue that photojournalists aren’t really human when they publish photos that are controversial to others. A lot of people argue that there are certain things people should not see.

But, why is the truth so bad? Would you rather be lied to?

It’s hard to be a real journalist. It is hard to sit at a desk and pound out a story on a daily basis. It is hard to go to a simple borough council meeting and determine the most important factors  to put into a story to give to the people of your town. It is hard to go to a sporting event and cover every single play and get every single player’s name spelled correctly. It is hard to weigh what is important for a reader to know and what is not important for people to know. It is hard to be standing behind a lens and see a dead body. It is hard to look up and see planes flying into a building while fire and ash spew from the sides. It is hard to see people dismembered lying on the ground.

Photo credit to Richard Drew of the Associated Press. Featured at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/09/pictures/110908-about-911-september-9-11-twin-world-trade-center-towers-indelible/#/september-9-11-attacks-anniversary-ground-zero-world-trade-center-pentagon-flight-93-falling-man_39992_600x450.jpg
Photo credit to Richard Drew of the Associated Press. Featured at: http://news.nationalgeographic.com

It is hard to be a journalist.

But if there were no journalists, no one would ever know anything. And if people don’t know anything, then they cannot protect themselves.

The next time one looks at a picture and feels like complaining about its content,

Perhaps you should take a moment and step back and think of how the person that took that photograph felt knowing all he or she could do was capture that moment and hope for the best.

We all feel, some of our professions just don’t allow us the luxury of acting on our emotions.

If you want to check out more images, feel free to not only search, but check out these sites:
http://lightbox.time.com/2013/03/18/a-decade-of-war-in-iraq-the-images-that-moved-them-most/#5
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/09/pictures/110908-about-911-september-9-11-twin-world-trade-center-towers-indelible/#/september-9-11-attacks-anniversary-ground-zero-world-trade-center-pentagon-flight-93-airplane-shanksville_39999_600x450.jpg

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America, Boston Marathon Attacks, Crime Rates, Death, Economics, Family, God, government, Homicide, Ideals, Life Lessons, Loss, Obama, Self Defense, Self Improvement, Terrorism, Tragedy, Uncategorized

The Boston Marathon Explosion in Pictures

This photo was found on the ABC News Website at http://www.abcnews.go.com
This photo was found on the ABC News Website at http://www.abcnews.go.com

As a journalist, seeing the photos released by news organizations of this attack today does not bother me at all. No, it’s not because I am heartless. No, it’s not because I have a strong stomach either. If anything, I have a weak stomach. I don’t find it disrespectful to take these photos because, guess what? EVERYONE needs to know what real life is like! You can’t sugar coat a tragedy and pictures aren’t any more disrespectful than the photo of the girl floating around on social media sites that people say was “Running for Sandy Hook.” SHE WASN’T! Her number showed she wasn’t even running in that race, but people of America are too stupid to investigate that picture and will repost it mindlessly.

But they get upset about blood.

The photo was a fake plastered all over the place of a little girl running in a clearly rural setting saying she died today when an 8-year-old boy died today. That is social media, not real journalism. Because, that was fake.

Photo falsely proclaiming this girl to be running in the Boston Marathon in remembrance of the Sandy Hook victims
Photo falsely proclaiming this girl to be running in the Boston Marathon in remembrance of the Sandy Hook victims

War is real. Terrorism is real. You wouldn’t be the slightest bit upset if it was a terrorist you saw. How many of you felt anything when you saw pictures of Saddam or other terrorists in gruesome fashions? The world is real. You should expect the photos you see to be real. A photojournalist’s job is to capture the raw truth of an image. That’s what you’re getting. It’s not staged. It’s not phony. It’s TRUTH. We are trained with discretion and determine what people need to see. Granted Facebook and Twitter has ruined that because anyone can upload anything now, but the job is to deliver the story. And you can’t tell the story without the blood. You can’t tell the story without the tears.

I mean seriously? Do you expect all the pictures to be of people laying on the ground with no blood and no tears in their eyes at all? Just sitting there??? Is that what you want? An emotionless image that just makes the subjects look like they don’t feel anything at all? I’m just curious. Because that’s not what real life does. People cry. people bleed.

People DIE.

And then act like journalists don’t have souls or boundaries. You wouldn’t even know what happened if you didn’t see the pictures or videos. You would be standing around wondering, “What the hell happened?” Journalists have the hardest jobs. We have to separate our feelings from our work. We have to put ourselves in terrible situations to get the job done. I mean, do you think every photojournalist sits around praying for a bombing or a shooting so that he or she can go take a picture? Do you think that’s what we want to see? Do you think we don’t cry about what we see late at night? No we hope to capture and write about happy moments. But we can’t do that all of the time in this world. We have to show the bad stuff too.

Take it in. And try to make the world a better place so the blood stops. Stop seeing life through a rainbow-colored lens…….obviously, as we saw today, LIFE ISN’T LIKE THAT.

When I get up in the morning, I don’t look for photos of blood and guts from various massacres across the world. However, I think that as Americans we have an arrogance about ourselves that cannot be denied. We don’t want to see war and reality if it’s on the face of our own people.

It is known that most people do not mind seeing pictures of dead terrorists or dead animals. And then people wonder why other countries hate us. We should see reality. No we shouldn’t see it at the age of four, but as young adults and adults we are fully capable of handing the truth. These pictures should show you reality.

This photo was found on the CNN Website at http://www.cnn.com
This photo was found on the CNN Website at http://www.cnn.com

We need to be aware of what we can do to one another.

And we need to change ourselves. But how can we learn if at first we don’t SEE?

The answer is simple: We Can’t

This photo was found on the Business Insider website at http://www.businessinsider.com
This photo was found on the Business Insider website at http://www.businessinsider.com
This photo was found on the New York Post website at http://www.nypost.com
This photo was found on the New York Post website at http://www.nypost.com
America, Assault Rifle Ban, Assault Rifles, Crime Rates, Death, Election, Family, Gun Laws, Guns, Homicide, Ideals, Life Lessons, Politics, Self Improvement

Assault Rifles: To Ban or Not to Ban

Someone once said that in order to conquer a nation, one must first disarm its citizens. I don’t know exactly who said it because there isn’t solidification anywhere, but nonetheless the quote holds true still today.

This brings into play the proposed gun legislation that President Obama would like to put in to effect.

I feel for the president because I most certainly would not want to be in his position. I feel whether or not he made this decision would have been a lose-lose situation for him. However, nonetheless I will say that I do not agree with his ban on the selling of assault weapons.

America is a land of opportunity. We love our second amendment like we love Old Glory. Many people feel like their rights are being infringed upon by this proposed ban. Some of these people include prior military personnel and gun enthusiasts. They feel that they should not be held responsible for the actions of a few other people, especially when those people were mentally disturbed.

Let’s look at the facts: America has the most gun murders of every country in the world. However (sources for the following come from Wikipedia and can be viewed here. It also appeared on other sites, but cumulatively came from Wikipedia):

 

The US had 14,738 total homicides last year. With that statistic, we had the most violent gun crime rate.

Brazil had 40,974 homicides last year
India had 40,752 homicides last year
Mexico had 25,757 homicides last year
Ethiopia had 20,239 homicides last year
Indonesia had 18,963 homicides last year
Nigeria had 18,422 homicides last year
South Africa had 15,940 homicides last year

So, we have the highest amount of gun killings, but we are still killing less that the rest of the world. Africa as a continent had 169,000 homicides last year. Central and South America had 130,000 homicides last year.

And there sits the USA, with 14,738

The common denominator here is people, not access to an AR-15 or AK47. That homicide rate listed above fails to even compare to the brutal murders in other parts of the world. And that statistic includes our “Most Violent Gun Country” title. The problem is a lack of humanity, not access to weaponry. Say of those nearly 41,000 Brazilians that 10,000 of them were killed by guns. That still leaves 31,000 other people killed in other ways. I can think of a few weapons to kill someone: knife, rope, poison, rock, vine.

30,000 people

The United States crime rate also has been steadily declining over the years as well, despite the gun issue. The crime rate in Honduras is 91.6, the crime rate in the United States is 4.8. People say that guns need to be taken off the streets as soon as possible to ensure safety. When is the last time any criminal has cared about laws and rules? I’m pretty sure that they don’t. Criminals will still be able to get assault rifles on the black market; that much you can be sure of. And then no self-respecting citizen will be able to protect themselves from someone who does have and assault rifle.

There is no correct solution for this, but in order to be fair, I feel that if the average American citizen cannot have access to an assault rifle, no one should; that includes the secret service, CIA, FBI and various other government bureaus. This includes the president and his family. I feel that the president should not be protected by bodyguards with assault rifles if he feels they are so detrimental to society. His secret service that protects him and his family should not be afforded a privilege of being protected by an assault rifle if all of America isn’t either. That is the only way I feel that law would ever be truly fair. The only people who would then be allowed to use those weapons are those in the military that are currently serving. The mass shooting that have happened are truly terrible, but this is not the solution for the problems. I could list many more viable options:

a) Arm the teachers in schools, or at least have the school guarded by an armed police person. If a killer would happen to get in, someone should be armed and ready to take that person down.
b) Perform psych evaluations on people who are trying to buy guns that seem like they could be a threat
c) Make gun safes essential in homes, perhaps lower the price of them so that guns can be locked up more easily
d) Parents need to teach their kids gun safety if they have guns around. Teach them that guns are not toys

These are just a few options. However, one thing cannot be denied: If someone wants to kill another person, they will find a means of doing it. The same week the Sandy Hook Massacre happened, a man entered a school in China and stabbed 20 people. Yes, a knife.

People need help, and they need it fast. And taking away a responsible person’s weapon isn’t going to help anyone.

Focus on mental health, focus on people.

Because the day an AR-15 can hop over a fence on its own and shoot a bunch of children is day that I do not want to be alive for.