AP image of a dying US marine causes outcry

International news agency, the Associated Press, has been criticised for publishing a picture of a dying US marine.

The picture, which depicts Lance Cpl Joshua Bernard being tended to by fellow soliders in Southern Afghanistan moments before the 21-year-old’s death, prompted outcry in the US.

Publication was against the wishes of Bernard’s family, however the Associated Press said it stood by its decision saying it wanted to: “make public an image that conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifices of young men and women fighting it.”

The move sparked debate in the US where at least 20 US newspapers carried the story on their front pages.

The Wheeling, West Virginia, Intelligencer ran the photo inside and an editorial explaining how it decided to “after hours of debate”.

“Too often, we fear, some Americans see only the statistics, the casualty counts released by the Department of Defense,” the newspaper wrote.

“We believe it is important for all of us to understand that behind the numbers are real men and women, sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice, for us.”

However, not all agree. The Portland (Maine) Press Herald published the story without the photograph. The editorial stated: “Although the Associated Press chose to distribute a photo of Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard taken shortly after he was mortally wounded, we believe that running the photo would be in poor taste and have chosen not to run it.”

The photo was condemned by US defence secretary Robert Gates who told the agency: “Why your organisation would purposefully defy the family’s wishes, knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish, is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and commonsense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling.”

However, the Associated Press received an email from Dan Cahalan, an Afghanistan veteran, who wrote: “this is one of the realest accounts from a journalist I have ever read and just wanted to thank (Jacobson) for her honest reporting of the war.”

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