The AP And A Dying Marine

Tom Ricks asks the AP to apologize for running a picture of a fatally wounded Marine over the objections of the soldier's family (he also rounds up some dissents). David Harsanyi sides with the AP:

There is now some question as to whether the agreement with the AP stipulated next-of-kin permission to publish pictures of deceased or wounded military personnel. That issue should be investigated. But on the debate over the substance of these pictures, the press has one overriding question to ask: Do the photos help citizens better understand the story of the war in Afghanistan? Obviously, they do.

Ben Macintyre takes Harsanyi's side:

This desire to control the imagery of war reflects the capacity of photography to convey the blunt truth about conflict in a way that no other art form, including the written word, can achieve. At Etaples, in 1917, Wilfred Owen wondered how anyone would be able to visualise “the very strange look” on the faces of men before battle on the Western Front: “An incomprehensible look ... more terrible than terror, for it was a blindfold look, without expression, like a dead rabbit’s. It will never be painted.” But it could be photographed. Half a century later, Don McCullin captured that bleak emptiness on the face of a shell-shocked GI at Hue in Vietnam. A single, stark photograph like this can encapsulate an entire war.

The Dish has long believed in maximum coverage of discomfiting images if they are relevant to public debate, and allowing readers to make up their own minds.