The Washington Times asks: “How close should journalists get to thugs and murderers to get the facts?”
It’s a question that has troubled editors for a long time, but a question that isn’t asked nearly often enough. The question takes on new significance in an age of terrorism. We revisit it now that Columbia University has awarded a Pulitzer Prize to an anonymous Associated Press photographer whose connections to terrorists yielded an extraordinary scoop. …
The photograph was riveting. It depicted the murder of three Iraqi election workers in broad daylight in the middle of Baghdad’s busy Haifa Street. In it, an unidentified gunman stands unmasked. The slumped body of his first victim lies at his feet. To the right, a soon-to-be dead victim kneels and faces the oncoming traffic.
In a climate of doomsaying about the January elections, the image resonated with American and European critics of the war. The photograph seemed to confirm fears about where the Iraq insurgency was heading (as well as offering further evidence of the depravity of the insurgents). By depicting a brazen terrorist murdering helpless Iraqi democrats, it put a new face on the Baghdad violence.
That, as it turned out, was precisely what the assailants intended. It was no accident that the AP photographer was present to record the act. The assailants had spun him into covering it….
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