Thank you for Arielle Emmett's timely discussion ("Too Graphic?" Spring 2010) regarding the myriad disturbing images made in the aftermath of Haiti's devastating earthquake of January 12.
Images from this tragedy have indeed given our profession yet another opportunity to examine the sometimes blurry guidelines affecting our decisions as to whether or not to publish "difficult" photographs.
A statement in the story I respectfully disagree with is Donald Winslow's gloomy assessment of today's newspaper leadership: "The kind of enlightened editor I used to have at the Palm Beach Post doesn't exist anymore..."
Perhaps we're just lucky here, but such editors do exist at the Miami Herald.
Let me share this anecdotal example:
Two days after the quake, we made an excruciatingly difficult decision – to publish as our page-one display a harrowing Patrick Farrell photograph of a dead girl whose ashen body was being carried down a Port-au-Prince street. This was a collective decision, including top editors, made after much heated discussion.
The next morning brought numerous calls that became my responsibility to accept or to return. The rancor I heard was the worst I've experienced in almost 30 years of working as a picture editor.
Midday, I shared some of that invective with our executive editor. His steadfast response: "We ran the right photograph."
I'm certain there still exist many other "enlightened" editors who would have agreed.
Editor / Photo & Video