Policing the Press

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Maybe I am a bit morbid or sick even, but I want to see dead bodies from Iraq and Afghanistan. I want to see the dead, sick and dying from New Orleans. Not because I like to see death and destruction, but because these things are happening now and they are real.

Here in America we have freedom of the press. In theory the press is allowed to report on anything and everything without restraint. Why, then, do we not see the death and destruction from the war in Iraq and the dead from hurricane Katrina? It took being challenged in court by CNN for the Bush administration to agree not to prevent the media from covering the effort to recover the dead bodies in New Orleans.

Sfgate.com reported yesterday in an article titled: "As bodies recovered, reporters are told no photos, no stories". The article tells of a member of the Army 82nd Airborne Division who approached a reporter on Kentucky Street and told him: "no photos, no stories." This was after the soldier threatened to take away the reporters press credentials and kick them out of the state if they reported on the body recovery process.

On Monday another soldier from the 82nd Airborne told reporters that the Army's policy is that media must be 300 meters away from the scene of any body recovery effort in New Orleans. Reporters were told that if they took pictures or wrote stories about the recovery effort they would be reported and would face "consequences". This was in the Bywater district of New Orleans.

Who would want to see pictures or read stories like this and why? I am that person. More people should want to see these types of things. How else can we grasp the concept of how vicious war is or how catastrophic this disaster was? In these times of "talking points" and polished up G-rated news reports, I believe it is imperative that we see with our own eyes the things that are happening around us, good or bad.

Never mind the fact that a "free press" is guaranteed in a little thing I like to call the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Limiting what and where the press can report sounds a little like something that would happen in China or Cuba, not here in America.


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