Regardingthe story about the AP publishing pictures of a dying American soldier in Afghanistan [h/t Instapundit] over the objections of his squad mates, the Army, the Secretary of Defense and the soldier’s family, let me just say this:
A noble man’s horrific last moments, the suffering of his squad mates and the grief of his family are not a product to be bottled and sold.
We should never forget that journalism is a paid profession and that journalists, editors and publishers act from a profit motive. Whatever noble motives they may claim, they still took and published those pictures to make money .
The members of many professions in our society earn their livings dealing with the pain of others. Doctors, lawyers, police, even soldiers themselves are not needed unless something goes wrong and someone is hurt. No one begrudges them their pay even though they make more money when people suffer.
However, journalists stand alone among the professions as having no legal professional standards or legal oversight. They answer to no one for their misconduct. As long as journalists make money, they can do as they wish. If they are motivated by ideology or cause, they don’t even have that limited control.
In any other business or profession there would be legal and financial consequences for such a disregard of the rights and welfare of others. For journalists, we have no recourse to their incompetence, greed or cruelty save the marketplace. Imagine a giant corporation that could act without fear of lawsuits, without professional oversight or legal consequence, and you have a good picture of how the journalism business operates.
In a profession with no oversight or consequences, it falls to the individuals to discipline themselves. The AP failed to do this. They saw a chance to cash in and they took it, regardless of the harm they did in seeking that profit.
If they can’t discipline themselves, the rest of us need to find a market mechanism to do it for them.
[Note: I’ll be offline for the long weekend and I don’t want to leave an unmediated thread, so I am not enabling comments for this post.]
[I’m back so I’m turning comments back on.]