Victims of Violence
Photographs portray deeper messages than written stories hence have over time become the major methods journalists use to ensure their stories stick. Pulitzer Prizes are given to journalists who have the most gruesome photographs. Readers ethically get repulsed by such images despite the fact that they really want to know what happened.
The immediate impact of these photos is that they spark emotional response. Photos have a greater impact in the transmission of the message than written words (Godwin 1983). Many people who are not addicted to reading or rather can’t read at all at least peruse the pictures in the content (Blackwood, 1983, p. 72).
Since time in history, journalists have been using photos to depict a more emotional response from the readers. A case in example is the use of photographs to depict the effects of the first word war during that time. Another example is the urge of Americans to know the effects of the civil war that nearly tore the nation apart by looking at the photos taken during the time by the use of slow film and lenses.
Another case in example is the use of pictures to illustrate words by Jacob Riis. Riis a reporter for the New York World initially wrote on what he thought of the mistreatment of the nation’s poor and homeless. After no action was taken, he resolved to illustrate his work in pictures of the victims prompting action.
The turn of the century brought in the front page style of journalism. This is termed as the era of sensationalism where visual images started playing a crucial part in journalism (Frank Mott 1962). According to Frank’s history of journalism, reporting crime news by lavishly using photos enhanced the effectiveness of transmitting the message hence the basis of this era.
Films and still images from the war in Vietnam caused a public uproar from the members of the public. This is despite the fact that these photos were extremely disturbing. The photojournalists used the pictures to portray the worst moments of the events that took place during the war. During the 1960’s visual images were used to portray some of the most strikingly terrifying moments in the history of the US. A good example is an important photograph of the assassination of Lee Harvey by a man with a grey hat and a concealed revolver by Bob Jackson of the Dallas times-Herald.
According to editors, when emotionally charged images come from a local event, readers tend to react strongest. People tend to get emotionally moved by images of cruel events that occur in their local areas than they are with images of events that have occurred in far places fro where they are.
According to some writers, readers may become callused by the constant images of the dead of the dying constantly portrayed in the media. Most of the readers become harder to offend or shock with time since they get used to the gruesome pictures that are constantly being portrayed in the media over time (Bill Hodge 1989). Some readers prefer the timing of the publishing of gruesome photos. Some complain when these type of photos are published in the morning rather than in the evening.
The best way to judge the reactions of readers is by taking a look at the mail and calls that come in after publishing a controversial image. The worst case of the bad effects of using gruesome pictures in the media is in instances when such images make family affairs public. This definitely arouses the attention of the audience whether they are callused or not.