Denise Meletiche leans over to kiss her son, Army Spc. Pedro A. Millet Meletiche, 20, during a funeral service at the Christ Fellowship Church, in Elizabeth, Meletiche died Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010, during a combat operation in Afghanistan.
At the Dallas Morning News blog, photo editor Guy Reynolds considers the rightness of publishing the photo above. He says, “We often are hesitant to run photos showing the deceased in the paper. I think editors here (and at other papers I’ve worked at) are overly sensitive to publishing these. If the family has invited us to attend and document the event and freely chooses to have its loved one on display then why would we, in the gatekeeper role, disregard their wishes?”
Most newspaper editors would reject this photo in favour of something less direct—a photo in which the “casket is out of focus and in the background,” and he prints an example. Here’s his reflection on this practice: “Out of sight, out of mind? Are our readers’ sensibilities protected by us deciding that they don’t need to see the face of the dead?”
Here in the UK we do not have the tradition of the visitation where dead people are displayed for a final farewell. For that reason, we are much more easily shocked by photos of dead people—even if they’re out of focus and in the background. So I wonder what effect a photo like the one above would have on people in this country. And I wonder what its effects would be on attitudes to the war in Afghanistan.
Do read Guy Reynolds’ blog here.