Social media Ukraine provides a flood of images of war deaths and genocide – and contributes to weak journalism standards

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<img class="caas-img has-preview" alt="25 फरवरी, 2022 को यूक्रेन के खार्किव के बाहरी इलाके में नष्ट हुए रूसी ट्रक के बगल में एक सैनिक का शव पड़ा है। AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/MQDV5kfZOUDIqCR648s6Ng–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ2OQ–/https://s.yimg.com/uj1Vh/S.2QR648s6AGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ2OQ-/ -~B/aD05NTc7dz0xNDQwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_conversation_us_articles_815/826c14f1e81b7f7b1da92f75dd0b1261″ data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/MQDV5kfZOUDIqCR648s6Ng–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ2OQ –/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/cAhSjQF1rAxo2U96VnVjXA–~B/aD05NTc7dz0xNDQwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/https://media.zenfs.com/en/15/861112b”714.
The body of a soldier lies next to a destroyed Russian truck on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 25, 2022. AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

Photos of civilians killed or wounded in the Russo-Ukraine war are widespread, especially online, both on social media and in professional news media.

Editors have always published images of people dead or suffering in times of crisis such as war and natural disasters. But the current crisis has made many of these images distributed, published online more widely than ever.

“It’s all over social media,” says Nancy San Martin, a longtime former foreign correspondent and editor at the Miami Herald. And not just online. Mainstream journalists are also taking a break from their traditional instinct to avoid prominently featuring images of dead people Of or especially the direct depiction of bodily injuries.

But in times of conflict abroad, those standard practices ease, San Martín, now deputy managing editor of the history and culture desk at National Geographic, told me in a phone interview: “War will always open that door. Part of our role is to document the outcome of the war and everything that is needed for it.”

Editorial oversight has traditionally been part of the equation – the practice of a group of journalists ensuring the context balances the importance and importance of what an image depicts with its magnitude. For example, they may choose a different angle of an injured or dead person that shows less blood, or crop an image so that a dead person’s face is not visible, or provide written information about what happened. You can choose to block an image completely.

As a Longtime Journalist and Editor After media, journalism and human rights, I know images can become public emblem symbolizing major events,

The flood of images from the Ukraine war runs deep and wide. It contains many potentially iconic images, but also depicts a more crude carnage than previous conflicts.

<img class="caas-img caas-lazy has-preview" alt="मैथ्यू ब्रैडी के साथ अलेक्जेंडर गार्डनर की तस्वीरों में अमेरिकी गृहयुद्ध में हताहतों की संख्या को दर्शाया गया था और यह उन लोगों को दिखाने वाले पहले लोगों में से थे जो युद्ध में मारे गए थे। Alexander Gardner via Library of Congress” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/0PneS7Gwxzw5uxDZPPjE9w–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTUxMw–/https://s.yimg.com/u/a.com/u/1.2/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbm PkrhcIe5E1I.d2RW2zl6QA–~B/aD0xMDQ3O3c9MTQ0MDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_conversation_us_articles_815/e1074a3c80033781d/952b><img alt="मैथ्यू ब्रैडी के साथ अलेक्जेंडर गार्डनर की तस्वीरों में अमेरिकी गृहयुद्ध में हताहतों की संख्या को दर्शाया गया था और यह उन लोगों को दिखाने वाले पहले लोगों में से थे जो युद्ध में मारे गए थे। Alexander Gardner via Library of Congress” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/0PneS7Gwxzw5uxDZPPjE9w–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTUxMw–/https://s.yimg.com/rhI.1.2/EPk/uu/ePi d2RW2zl6QA–~B/aD0xMDQ3O3c9MTQ0MDthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_conversation_us_articles_815/e1074a3c1d12b9295fe933781d9d9e8004″ class=”ca>as8004″
Alexander Gardner’s photographs with Matthew Brady depicted casualties in the American Civil War and were among the first to show those who died in battle. Alexander Gardner via Library of Congress

powerful pictures

From early days of photography In the 19th century, war has been a common theme, including during the American Civil War,

Some pictures have become famous, such as Joe Rosenthal’s image of a World War II US Marine Flag hoisting on Mount Suribachi, indicating the capture of Iwo Jima from the Japanese Imperial Army in February 1945. It was distributed by The Associated Press and go to the front page in several American newspapers.

“From struggle have always emerged powerful images,” Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Patrick Farrell Told in video call. “A still image is one of the most powerful forms of media. It will sit with you forever.”

Many famous images are not of victory or glory but of violence and death – and are even etched into public memory. Nick Utt’s photonapalm girl“Picture of Kim Phuc and John Philo Mary Ann Vecchio mourning student protester Jeffrey Miller Kent State University shows both the foreign and domestic toll of the Vietnam War. they were transmitted via wire servicesalso, and chosen to feature prominently in newspapers and magazines across the country.

pictures of heaps on the streets After the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and floating in the water New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina There are examples of choices made by editors across the country in a single year to display coverage showing the true human cost of significant natural disasters.

A 1993 image of Kevin Carter Vulture next to a hungry child There is a more enduring image of human tragedy in Sudan which was published by editors around the world. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994.

Wire-distributed photos of other tragedies, including Nilufar Demir’s image of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian boy whose body was washed on a Greek beach, and tortures, such as Photos from Abu Ghraib The number of US military personnel abusing Iraqi prisoners is also a visceral reminder of the complex events.

increased volume

The difference between those conditions and the current one in Ukraine is the vast amount of images.

As always in conflict situations, Ukraine has award-winning professional photojournalists send back images They work for media outlets. But many of them are also posting pictures of themselves or their employers. social media accounts – More than images to be published on the front page or homepage of the newspaper on the web.

are also on social media common citizen’s legacy Taking pictures from your smartphone and witnessing, sharing countless photos every day.

With “floodgates opened by social media,” as Farrell put it, the media environment in 2022 is different from decades past. There are now many powerful images competing to become iconic.

In Farrell’s estimation it is “no more graphic than what we saw during Vietnam”, but then the media cycle was based on dailies and nightly TV news broadcasts, meaning there were breaks in the barrage of imagery.

What worries Farrell and me is that there is less editorial oversight as to which images reach the most eyeballs—even in professional newsrooms.

With social media and never-ending competition in the mix, editors are publishing and distributing images with less consideration for traditional editorial restraint and a balance between gore and meaning – and with less context about the images.

<img class="caas-img caas-lazy has-preview" alt="अलेक्जेंडर, जो अपना अंतिम नाम नहीं देना चाहता था, 29 मार्च, 2022 को यूक्रेन के लविवि में ओल्ड टाउन के बाहर एक पियानो बजाता है। अलेक्जेंडर ने कहा कि वह खेल रहा था क्योंकि वह अपने गृहनगर क्रामटोरस्क से भाग जाने के बाद पियानो बजाने में सक्षम होने से चूक गया था। Joe Radle/Getty Images” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/HMLC.SxYQpzWmsDkMdXJzQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ4OQ–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/uu 1.2/gBOKzLH1Vs4_rXeqqAcIZA–~B/aD05OTk7dz0xNDQwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_conversation_us_articles_815/1ff352395fdc1e4><img alt="अलेक्जेंडर, जो अपना अंतिम नाम नहीं देना चाहता था, 29 मार्च, 2022 को यूक्रेन के लविवि में ओल्ड टाउन के बाहर एक पियानो बजाता है। अलेक्जेंडर ने कहा कि वह खेल रहा था क्योंकि वह अपने गृहनगर क्रामटोरस्क से भाग जाने के बाद पियानो बजाने में सक्षम होने से चूक गया था। Joe Radle/Getty Images” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/HMLC.SxYQpzWmsDkMdXJzQ–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ4OQ–/https://s.yimg.com/uu/a/uu/ gBOKzLH1Vs4_rXeqqAcIZA–~B/aD05OTk7dz0xNDQwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_conversation_us_articles_815/1ff35239563dc1e4badca>img
Alexander, who did not wish to give his last name, plays a piano outside Old Town in Lviv, Ukraine, on March 29, 2022. Alexander said he was playing because he had missed being able to play the piano after fleeing his hometown of Kramatorsk. Joe Redl/Getty Images

context is important

An important element of that context is that in some ways life goes on, says San Martin. Despite the carnage and devastation of war, she says, places that experienced war are still places where people spend their lives. Her husband, Joe Radl, an award-winning photographer with Getty Images, is documenting both refugee exodus and everyday life in Ukraine – cultural exhibits, restaurants serving free meals, churches offering comfort – and a man playing piano on the streetWhen he ran away from the fight he left behind.

“It’s a war of a different kind. Still heartbreaking,” she says, noting that there’s more to the major images than is happening. Full coverage will become more important as the war continues. It’s going to be, as she says, “a long haul.”

It is common for the media to focus on the urgency of a conflict or disaster and highlight the most dramatic, even horrific events. But what San Martín reminds me, and what I have observed in my work, is that journalists often give Less emphasis on back processes events and surrounding context – including Survival, determination and resilience of those affected.

Sensational images circulating on social media are likewise incomplete – or even potentially false, whether shared by preachers or their innocent thugs. They represent an important, and dangerous, reality. But there is more to the picture than that.

This article is republished from Conversation, a non-profit news site dedicated to sharing the views of academic experts. it was written by: Bina Sarwar, Emerson College,

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Bina Sarwar does not work for, consult, own shares or receive funding for any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and she has not disclosed any relevant affiliations beyond her academic appointment. not done.

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