WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Graphic Images in the Media

Sep 15, 2015

The Shop Talk panelists discuss whether it's appropriate to use graphic images in news stories.

One recent example is the photo of three-year old Aylan Kurdi.  His body washed ashore on a Turkish beach after his family tried to escape the violence in Syria. 

Shop Talk’s Rich Egger wondered whether there a reason to show such an image or if media outlets should refrain from using them. 

The panelists believe it was appropriate for news outlets to use the image.

Panelist Lisa Kernek said the photo of Kurdi in his red shirt, blue shorts, and sneakers caused people to finally care about the refugee crisis.  She said the photo is not graphic or bloody, but it is a sad sight to see.

She also pointed out it’s a photo of a single body, which forced people to think about that single person’s story. 

Panelist Abby Wendle concurred.  She said it’s almost impossible to grasp all the tragedies in the world.  The photo gave people a narrative they could cling to

She also said the photo of Kurdi managed to get the public and news organizations to pay attention to a crisis that’s been mounting for years. 

Egger believes the photo struck a chord because Kurdi could be considered an innocent who was the victim of an international crisis. And he acknowledged paying more attention to the refugee crisis after seeing the photo.