AJR  Letters
From AJR,   February/March 2005

Getting the Picture   

By Unknown

I enjoyed your article in AJR about "Images of War" (October/November). You had some wonderful quotes from some of the major players in the picture business. I wonder if anyone that could really benefit from all the perspectives offered here will really pay any attention to it.

I was among those few voices that spoke up early against the types of images that were being distributed by the mainstream press during the first year of the conflict in Iraq. I think, exactly as you have pointed out, there were only a few that figured out how the public and the press were being "played" by the Pentagon. I think Eric Boehlert of Salon, Peter Howell, Muhammad Fhad Al-Harithy, Douglas Kellner and Edgar Roskis have been wise in pointing out how the mainstream media were sanitizing war coverage from March 2003 until the release of the Abu Ghraib pictures in April 2004.

Criticism is not very popular within the halls of power these days, never has been. I include the Fourth Estate as being among those frequently seen walking down these halls. Only a few independent voices risk being shut off or shut out because they discover the unpopular truth about the relationship between the Pentagon and the press.

The big question now is will your article make a difference in how the mainstream press covers the next war in terms of perception management? I hope so, but fear the people who can and should read your article will only dismiss it as press bashing. What a shame. Nice work anyway.

Dennis J. Dunleavy
Assistant professor/ photojournalism coordinator
School of Journalism and Mass Communications
San Jose State University
San Jose, California