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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 9/7/2005 3:04:45 PM EDT
By Deborah Zabarenko
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When U.S. officials asked the media not to take pictures of those killed by Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, they were censoring a key part of the disaster story, free speech watchdogs said on Wednesday.

The move by the Federal Emergency Management Agency is in line with the Bush administration's ban on images of flag-draped U.S. military coffins returning from the Iraq war, media monitors said in separate telephone interviews.

"It's impossible for me to imagine how you report a story whose subject is death without allowing the public to see images of the subject of the story," said Larry Siems of the PEN American Center, an authors' group that defends free expression.

U.S. newspapers, television outlets and Web sites have featured pictures of shrouded corpses and makeshift graves in New Orleans.

But on Tuesday, FEMA refused to take reporters and photographers along on boats seeking victims in flooded areas, saying they would take up valuable space need in the recovery effort and asked them not to take pictures of the dead.

In an e-mail explaining the decision, a FEMA spokeswoman wrote: "The recovery of victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect and we have requested that no photographs of the deceased by made by the media."

Efforts to recover bodies continued on Wednesday. Out in the city's filthy waters, rescue teams tied bodies to trees or fences when they found them and noted the location for later recovery before carrying on in search of survivors.

Rebecca Daugherty of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press found this stance inexplicable.

"The notion that, when there's very little information from FEMA, that they would even spend the time to be concerned about whether the reporting effort is up to its standards of taste is simply mind-boggling," Daugherty said. "You cannot report on the disaster and give the public a realistic idea of how horrible it is if you don't see that there are bodies as well."

'INVITATION TO CHAOS'

FEMA's policy of excluding media from recovery expeditions in New Orleans is "an invitation to chaos," according to Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a part of Columbia University's journalism school.
"This is about managing images and not public taste or human dignity," Rosenstiel said. He said FEMA's refusal to take journalists along on recovery missions meant that media workers would go on their own.

Rosenstiel also noted that U.S. media, especially U.S. television outlets, are generally reluctant to show corpses.

"By and large, American television is the most sanitized television in the world," he said. "They are less likely to show bodies, they are less likely to show graphic images of the dead than any television in the world."

There is also a question of what the American PEN Center's Siems called "international equity," noting that American news outlets cover stories around the world showing the effects of natural disasters and wars in graphic detail.

"How is the world going to look at us if we go into their part of the world and we broadcast these images and we do not allow ourselves to look at such images when they're right in our own midst?" Siems said.

Mark Tapscott, a former editor at the Washington Times newspaper who now deals with media issues at the Heritage Foundation, said the FEMA decision did not amount to censorship.

"Let's not make a common decency issue into a censorship issue," Tapscott said. "Nobody wants to wake up in the morning and see their dead uncle on the front page. That's just common decency."


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Link Posted: 9/7/2005 3:07:29 PM EDT
I'm at the point of wondering if they will release the true death count.
Link Posted: 9/7/2005 3:09:04 PM EDT
Alot of tin foil running around about this. I'd hope it's for nothing more than respect for the dead.

Not like this request is going to mean anything to the vultures.
Link Posted: 9/7/2005 3:10:05 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/7/2005 3:12:49 PM EDT by raven]
No! More pictures of black rotting corpses! Let the people see how the Chimperor failed them! MORE! MORE! MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

www.progressiveindependent.com/shalom/katrina/katrinaphotos.htm
Link Posted: 9/7/2005 3:10:29 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/7/2005 3:12:14 PM EDT by IAMLEGEND]

Originally Posted By SmilingBandit:
Alot of tin foil running around about this. I'd hope it's for nothing more than respect for the dead.

Not like this request is going to mean anything to the vultures.



I think it's more like trying to quell panic/hysteria that we can have a major situation like this in the US and not really be able to handle it as well as people might expect.
People think of it getting this bad in Africa and SE Asia, not here.


ETA: If not panic/hysteria then doubt/lack of faith in the authorities and 'the system'.
Link Posted: 9/7/2005 3:14:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By jkstexas2001:
I'm at the point of wondering if they will release the true death count.



That's a bit silly. This isn't a fucking coverup, it's simply an attempt to keep the media from turning it into more of a fucking circus than it already is. How would you like it if the first you heard of how a family member fared the storm was seeing his bloated body floating in the street?
Link Posted: 9/7/2005 3:14:39 PM EDT
This should not even be an issue. When told not to photo the dead, the media should just accept that. Arguing this will only make the media look like inconsiderate assholes. Respect the dead. Respect the family's privacy. We know people died, no need to show it.
Link Posted: 9/7/2005 3:16:05 PM EDT

Originally Posted By RikWriter:

Originally Posted By jkstexas2001:
I'm at the point of wondering if they will release the true death count.



That's a bit silly. This isn't a fucking coverup, it's simply an attempt to keep the media from turning it into more of a fucking circus than it already is. How would you like it if the first you heard of how a family member fared the storm was seeing his bloated body floating in the street?



I agree.
Link Posted: 9/7/2005 3:16:32 PM EDT

Originally Posted By jkstexas2001:
I'm at the point of wondering if they will release the true death count.



I wonder if we'll ever know? And I have been wondering about the lack of a count. Post tsunami there were periodic updates-1000, 5000, etc. No way to know if they were accurate. There is either a lack of a coordinated accounting or if not, it's being downplayed. As the water receeds, it will be hard to mask any large scale tragedy if there was one.
Link Posted: 9/7/2005 3:28:05 PM EDT

Originally Posted By raven:
No! More pictures of black rotting corpses! Let the people see how the Chimperor failed them! MORE! MORE! MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Ahhh a DU troll in our midst. At least he won't get banned here, unlike at DUh.
Link Posted: 9/7/2005 3:29:57 PM EDT
By the way DUmbass, the reason there are dead people in NOLA is because the mayor and governor failed to evacuate everyone. If there was noone in NO, it wouldn't have been a problem.
Link Posted: 9/7/2005 3:30:08 PM EDT
FEMA ASKED, not demanded, not required, ASKED. As in, a request. Thats not censorship.

Some folks is really stupid.
Link Posted: 9/7/2005 3:30:30 PM EDT
Boy do we need to send some reporters to work in North Korea for a while if they yell censorship when the US government asks them nicely not to take picures of dead bodies.
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