Making the decision

September 4, 2009 1:37:08 PM PDT
What do we show and when do we show it on TV?

That question seems simple enough - news is news, right? But the truth is it's hugely complicated. And we deal with it just about every day.

We often show crime and accident scenes - to pick the simplest example. And we are indeed careful not to show dead bodies or gratuitous shots of blood.

But we record video of it. And reserve the right not to air it, with a decision made in-house.

The broadcast nature of what we do - beaming signals into people's homes, where children can easily see it - sets the parameters for much of these decisions.

But there's a more complicated side of this argument - and it's playing out today with the death of 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard of New Portland, Maine. He was killed in Afghanistan on Aug. 14, and his fatal injuries were recorded by an embedded Associated Press photographer.

The photos are dramatic - not so much gruesome as they are emotional. Bernard, hurt and frantically getting help from his comrades. He later died from his wounds.

His family, and the Pentagon, asked that the pictures not be published. But isn't showing the realities of war part of covering war? Isn't that what makes us a free society - the flow of information that reflects reality?

There are limits, to be sure, and there are boundaries. The AP decision to offer the pictures to its clients has sparked a big debate and it's fascinating.

We'd love to hear what you think. CLICK HERE and we'll include some of your comments in my next column - next Tuesday.

We'll have the latest on any developments in the war in Afghanistan, tonight at 11.

We're also in Newark tonight, where police have released the name of one of the men they're looking for in Tuesday's shooting that left a four-year-old girl in the hospital. She was caught in the middle of the violence.

Also at 11, if you liked the Cash for Clunkers program for cars - how about a similar program for appliances? The government has just released plans to release $300 million for a rebate program when you buy certain energy-efficient appliances. Will that be enough to entice folks to trade in their old appliances? Is this a good economic strategy by the government? Tappy Phillips and 7 On Your Side takes a look tonight.

We'll also have any breaking news of the day - plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Jessica Taff (in for Scott Clark) with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

PS: Because of Labor Day, this column will resume on Tuesday, Sept. 8.


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