While reading back newspapers on my return home from vacation I read an article about the shootings of the Amish schoolchildren in their eastern Pennsylvania schoolhouse.
The following paragraph came from the October 6 article:
As the caskets passed the church, journalists were asked to take pictures only of the sides or backs of those in the procession.
Just above this paragraph was a close-up picture of an older Amish couple in their horse-drawn buggy. The picture measured 7 7/8 by 4 1/2 inches. They were clearly grief stricken.
It is pretty well known that the Amish oppose photographs because they interpret them as making an image of God. I cannot believe the photographer and news editor didn’t know this. Yes the shot was a side view, but it was a side view that took full advantage of showing the facial expressions of the Amish couple. And I am sure the photographer had taken other pictures more in line with the Amish request. This picture didn’t have to be used. The Amish community deserved more respect than this.
Later, continuing my reading of the newspapers, I found interesting letters to the editor.
The first, written by a Scottdale resident, said “it was in extremely bad taste” for the paper to publish the Amish photos “in their time of deepest grief.” The second objected to the exploitation and dramatization of the tragedy. In an article about the girl that asked to be shot first, statements like “where cold soil now covers the bodies of…,” “shrouded in white and encased in wood” and “mourners helped shovel dirt on the caskets” were considered novel rather than journalism writing.
Do you agree or disagree that the journalists were in error and used in bad taste and bad judgment?
To read comments made on this article that was originally printed in the Beanery Online Literary Magazine, Vol. 1, click on Journalism Question . Add your own comments below.
Visit the Beanery Online Literary Magazine, Vol. 2, tomorrow evening to read a report on a Beanery Writers Group discussion on journalistic morality.