There are some people who think that no photo of a dead body should be shown any time, any place.
I ran into those people during my time at The Carthage Press. Shortly before my departure from the newspaper world in May 1999, The Press inadvertently ran a photo in which you could see the foot of a dead man. It was inadvertent, but I had one person after another writing and calling and telling me how insensitive I was. Frankly, I wasn't bothered anywhere near as much by people telling me that was wrong, as I was that people were willing to forget every good article I had written because of something that was not intentional and not blatant.
I am sure there are some people who firmly agree with FEMA's edict that news photographers take no pictures of bodies in the areas affected by Katrina. The news media is protesting these attempt to manage the news, and rightfully so.
The media's job is to accurately portray the situation in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. That cannot be done if they are being ordered by government officials to sugarcoat the news.
The photos are ugly and offensive...just as they should be. This is an ugly and offensive situation, made worse by local, state, and federal officials who were not anywhere near adequately prepared for such a disaster. The photos should accurately reflect the situation.
The government is not setting these guidelines in an effort to protect family members or Americans' sensibilities. Showing these pictures and the true scope of what has happened is the worst public relations politicians can have. That is what is going on here.
If you don't buy that, consider recent history. The Bush Administration's order that photos not be taken of flag-covered coffins out of respect for the families, was not done to protect the families. News agencies were not revealing which Americans were in those coffins; they were just showing the horrible consequences of war. Each time the coffins were pictured, even though almost always in a respectful manner, the cost of the administration's hasty march to war can be seen clearly.
Perhaps it is time for our government officials to take care of the people's business and let the media do their jobs.