Friday, August 28, 2015

A Defense of the Daily News Cover

Glock 17 Night firing to catch muzzle flash.
Glock 17 Night firing to catch muzzle flash. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here's the link.

Reading about gun violence isn’t enough. A shooting is a visual tragedy. There’s a muzzle flash, bullets, a wound, blood, and bodies. When we see an upsetting image, our brain draws on tens of thousands of years of evolutionary training for a proper response. We are flooded with chemicals that make us feel the badness of what we see, so that we can adjust our behavior accordingly. Maybe that means running away from a tiger, or maybe it means passing gun control legislation. But horror is healthy and normal, and means your brain is working as intended. It’s a useful response, because it might convince you—it might force you—to viscerally react to our nation’s epidemic of gun violence. If people see photos of Alison Parker being effortlessly slaughtered by a disgruntled former co-worker with an easily obtained firearm, maybe they will conclude that guns are devices of horror and easy death. If so, it will be worth the discomfort. It’s a nice fantasy, but you can’t pretend that discomfort is optional; feeling like shit is a necessary part of being alive.


Nick Schebeta said...

Although we criticized Gawker this past Friday for their article on the Conde Naste CFO, I do agree, for the most part, with this piece. However, I disagree with the justification/ mere comparison of the Daily News cover to newspaper covers following September 11th. Yes, the comparison validates that newspapers usually aren't afraid to use photos from tragedies as their front page, but the two tragedies are different in their nature so using September 11th as a precedent seems odd.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Good crit. They are so different. Though I may not be remembering this accurately, I'm thinking a better comparison for this writer would be between news media use of pictures of bodies falling/jumping from the Twin Towers - which I recall most news outlets chose not to use. Also, there was some talk about using photos of smashed bodies, but I never saw any nor found any references to their use. Some strong pictures can make people think, and I would argue for their use. But others - I assume - can make us turn away and go numb. I think.