Many Newspapers Fail to Carry AP Photo of Deadly Afghan Incident

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NEW YORK Newspapers had a mixed reaction to the controversial Associated Press photo distributed today of a Marine who died in combat in Afghanistan last month, with some using the image as a stark example of war and others declining to run it.

AP drew attention, and some criticism, when it released the photo of Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard, who was mortally wounded on Aug. 14. The photo was distributed for use today as part of a group of images taken by AP photographer Julie Jacobson that chronicled Bernard's service. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates today blasted the AP for its "appalling" judgment and sent a formal letter of complaint. AP has defended its move (see other stories on this site), said it would revisit the decision but declined to withdraw the picture.

The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times ran the photo on its Web site with an AP story about the images, while The Commercial Appeal in Memphis provided an online photo gallery of all of Jacobson's images from the coverage. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin also carried the photo.

The Intelligencer in Wheeling, W.Va., also ran the image, with a lengthy editorial explaining why. It said, in part, "Not all news outlets will choose to publish the picture, distributed by The Associated Press. We feel we owe it to our readers to explain why we have decided to use the image.

"We are entirely in support of the war against terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. We also are dedicated to supporting America's fighting men and women.

"We believe that it is important for those of us for whom our soldiers, sailors, air crews and Marines serve to understand the sacrifices they make. Too often, they make the ultimate sacrifice -- for us."

But some papers, such as the Salt Lake Tribune, Boston Herald and The Portland (Maine) Press Herald, ran the AP story and some or most of the images, while purposely withholding the shot of Bernard being fatally wounded.

"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," a Press Herald editor's note stated.

Stars and Stripes ran the AP story and a large photo of Bernard on Page One, but did not run the controversial image. The Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle, The New York Times and The Washington Post all ran the AP story but did not include the image of Bernard. The Post carried a photo gallery, absent the controversial picture.

The Times later showed the photo with a lengthy discussion on its Lens blog at:

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/04/behind-13/
 
 
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