A journalistic morality play


The above photograph ran in today’s New York Post. It’s of a 15-year-old girl named Vada Vasquez, who was shot in the head yesterday while speaking with a friend near her schools, Bronx Science.

Vada is now in critical condition at Lincoln Hospital. Here is the full story, if you’re interested.

The folks at Sportsjournalists.com are currently hosting a pretty good debate on whether the Post was right or wrong to run such a graphic picture. The Daily News, the Post’s main competition, supposedly ran a similar photo, but with the girl cropped out.

I disagree with the Post on nearly everything, but I have little problem with the newspaper using the image. First off, no blood. Second, and most important, it’s powerful. Really powerful—without crossing a certain line. I feel a little uncomfortable with the victim only being 15, but a newspaper’s job is to report and detail and make readers know—and feel—what’s going on.

Fortunately, it sounds as if Vada is improving.

2 thoughts on “A journalistic morality play”

  1. I remember a heated debate about publishing graphic photos back in journalism school – the professor thought no photos should be held back, but many of the students felt otherwise. There was no right answer – it’s one of those situations where a strong argument could be made for either side.

    Personally, I agree with you, Jeff. Especially because there’s no blood and her face and wound are not really visible. If the photo had been taken from the opposite angle, I would probably feel otherwise.

  2. Things like this are getting harder and harder to read by the day. I desperately hope the victim makes it through this. Thank you Jeff for bringing this to my attention. I could see both sides to this situation. I happen to agree with you, I think this photo is very powerful and it sends a message to its readers. To me that is one of the important roles of newspapers. To paint a picture of the situation at hand. This photo really grabs the reader, but it manages to stay respectable in that it isn’t gruesome. The fact that she is 15 is a bit of a concern, but this makes the picture all the more powerful. For a 15 year old girl not to be able to walk home from school without getting hit by a stray bullet is very disturbing.

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