Time Depicts Bloody Child On Its Boston Bombing Cover- Too Much Or Historical Accuracy? (PHOTOS)

Time Magazine's tablet-only Boston Marathon bombing cover... controversial?

Time Magazine’s tablet-only Boston Marathon bombing cover… controversial?

When a tragedy of global importance occurs, the media is put in the sensitive position of deciding just how to cover it and what images to select to illustrate their stories. Depending on the gravitas of the media source – whether print or online – choices are made as to how graphic to get, how explicit the detail; just what to show and what not to. Over the years, debates have raged about whether the coffins of the war dead could be photographed, if crime scenes could be shown in all their graphic sensationalism, or if high-profile terrorist captures should be photographically published (the recent debate over releasing of Osama bin Laden’s death photos, most notably).

Certainly when it comes to photographic depictions of children in peril, we are most sensitive. The pros and cons are weighed between honestly depicting history and the privacy and protection of our most vulnerable citizens. The most iconic of these types of photographs might be the image of Phan Th? Kim Phúc, a young girl running from a napalm attack in Viet Nam, which illustrated the horrors of that particular war in a way mere words could not:

“Napalm Girl” – image by Huynh Cong “Nick” Ut @AsianCorrespondent

“Napalm Girl” – image by Huynh Cong “Nick” Ut @AsianCorrespondent

There is also this memorable image of a firefighter in Oklahoma City rescuing an injured baby from the bombed out Murrah Building:

Oklahoma City fireman rescues baby at Murrah Building– image by Charles Porter@CreightonInfoEthics

Oklahoma City fireman rescues baby at Murrah Building– image by Charles Porter@CreightonInfoEthics

Entering that painful gallery is this preview of Time Magazine’s latest cover, which is to be released later this week in a tablet-only version of the magazine:

At question, once again, is whether the image of a child covered with blood, clearly terrified, is appropriate for public viewing. History, as illustrated in the images above, tells us it is not only appropriate, but a necessary part of chronicling our history in all its sometimes tragic authenticity.

Time Magazine is known for its controversial covers (how could we forget the mother breastfeeding her 4-year-old son?), but is this truly one of them? The Huffington Post is running a poll at their page; so far it’s 2 to 1 in favor of “it’s a magazine’s job to capture the horror of the event.”

What do you think? Leave us your thoughts in comments.



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