Why We Ran the Photo  | American Journalism Review
From AJR,   July/August 1998

Why We Ran the Photo   

Executive Editor Jerry Ceppos tells readers why the San Jose Mercury News published a controversial photograph.

By Unknown
     

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Here's the explanation run by the San Jose Mercury News when it printed a particularly controversial photograph:

Dear reader,

The decision to publish the front page photograph of Richard Allen Davis' obscene gesture wasn't an easy one.

Let me tell you why we decided to do it.

Ever since Davis' arrest, I've wanted to know more about the character of a man who could kill Polly Klaas.

Ever since it became clear that the jury would convict him, I've wanted to know how he would react, what he's thinking.

Even though it's unclear precisely who the target of the gesture is, I believe the photograph tells us something about Davis' contempt for the system that convicted him.

While the gesture is vulgar, it does give us some insight. In fact, I suspect that it will become one of those indelible photographic images that will come to represent a terrible episode in American life.

For those reasons, I thought the photograph was worth publishing. I'd be interested in your views, too. Jerry Ceppos

Executive Editor

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