Marvin Olasky’s lecture titled “Christian Worldview and Ethics” was probably the most thought provoking topic of the week. We were shown a series of graphic photos: including a Vietcong soldier being shot in the head and a large vulture quietly watching a starving Sudanese child trying to crawl towards food. Another photo showed a woman and a child falling from a high building while trying to escape a fire. They had climbed onto the fire escape only for it to collapse under them. The woman did not survive the fall.
We were faced with some difficult questions. If we were the editors, would we have published these photos? Is it ethical? Is it just sensational? Is there a point?
Mr. Olasky believes so.
While these photos are hard to look at, they also prompted positive change. The photo of the execution of the Vietcong soldier helped alert the American public about the reality of the Vietnam War. The starving child showed the world the harshness of the famine in Sudan and the picture of the fire escape collapsing led to some updated laws about fire safety around the country.
With some discretion, publishing graphic pictures can spark change, something journalists should want to do through their work.