By Mick Gregory
The Butcher of Baghdad is dead. I wonder if Hugo Chavez holds a fear that he will soon be executed by his countrymen in a similar way? Chavez was one of the last dictators to meet with Saddam while he was still head of state. That was, until the U.S. and U.K. forces took over. Chavez must feel a little less secure today.
Here is what the “gatekeepers” of the media elite advise:
Here are some questions to consider:
1. Where did the video or the pictures come from? Are they authentic? Images of the execution could come from two possible sources — officials involved in the execution could release the images, or they could become public through anonymous sources. In both cases journalists should ask about motives. Who benefits by releasing images of the execution? Should the images come from unofficial channels, editors must first determine if they are authentic. Have they been altered or edited?
2. What do the images show? Are they edited? How far ahead of the moment of death is documented? Is the death prolonged and gruesome? Is it clinical and sterile? Can those involved in the execution be identified? If they can be identified, should their identities be concealed?
3. Have the images been distributed widely on the Internet or by other means? This is not to suggest that if they have been, editors should go with the flow. But it does mean that a significant portion of the audience will see the pictures. Editors may consider linking to the images or giving their audience directions for finding the pictures. If the images do become available on the Internet, who is posting them? What is the public reaction? What information do viewers need to place the images in proper context and how can journalists provide that information?
4. How can journalists responsibly use images of Saddam’s hanging? Can still photos be made from a video? Should images leading up to the moment of death be shown, but not the actual death? Should they be used on the Internet, but not in print or broadcast?
5. What is the journalistic purpose for showing images of Saddam Hussein’s hanging? Should the images become available, it would not be hard to justify publishing them in a responsible form.
Impressed with their superior moral standing of the mainstream media?