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 V.17 No.29 | July 17 - 23, 2008 

Thin Line

We talk news every day and found ourselves polarized over the lead photo in the Albuquerque Journal Thursday, July 10. We'll take on the topic of that startling image in the first "Thin Line Versus."

"A Woman"

The caption reads: "A woman spattered in blood talks outside the rear door of the Golden Star restaurant."

I picked up the paper and stared at the shot, a woman with blood on her face and T-shirt, on the phone, eyes closed, one hand outstretched. Her body language reads as stunned. I scanned the story. A young woman was killed at a Chinese restaurant on San Pedro and Menaul while her family, including her small son, was in the kitchen.

I read the caption again and again. Something was needling me. "A woman." Did the anonymous, potentially traumatized woman in the photo standing "outside the rear door" of the restaurant know she was being photographed? No one got her name. And if she was in the back, did she want to be seen?

You don't have to get someone's permission to film or photograph them when they're on public property. No laws have been violated as best I can tell. But it shows a lack of compassion to run a photo like this.

Maybe the person in the photo was the mother, sister, friend, aunt or coworker of the woman who was killed that day. What did she think when she saw the front page of our major daily the next morning?

Sure, the photo succeeded in catching my eye, and I wholly support the full freedom of the press to run whatever it wants whenever it wants. But sometimes a sense of decency should overrule the desire to sell papers. (MD)

The Photo Makes it Real

It’s jarring, and it should be. The photo of a distressed woman, in tears outside the Golden Star restaurant, makes us look twice—and that’s a good thing.

Violent crime happens a lot in Albuquerque, and reading about murder every few days can make people forget just how uniquely horrible an event like this is. Reading about the murdered woman’s kindness and generosity helps create a picture of her personality, but those things don’t tell us what her death means to the people that loved her.

The picture does. It says a great deal about personal human tragedy. Reading about a woman’s violent death cannot impact us as much as a photo of someone’s pain. That’s because pictures give lives and words palpable meaning. A murder becomes not just a statistic, not just a symptom of a larger epidemic, but a brutal act committed against a specific person.

The possibility that the photo was taken without the woman’s permission makes me uncomfortable. The idea that the Albuquerque Journal is in some way profiting off of her misery is unsettling. But the photo’s primary and most powerful purpose is still achieved. It makes us care. (SM)


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