In 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was captured and killed while on an assignment in Pakistan. Before his murder, Pearl was taped denouncing U.S. Foreign policy and confessing his Jewish faith. Pearl was then killed on camera, and his head was held aloft by one of the captors.
As gruesom as the footage is, CBS determined it necessary to air clippings during the evening news. While no graphic depictions or the actual murder were included, the airing sparked controversy between CBS and Pearl’s family.
CBS argued that the airing was intended to give light to the type of blatant propaganda being used against the United States. Pearl’s family, on the other hand, deems the video inappropriate, claiming that it serves to further the message of hatred initiated by the murders. Additionally, members of the justice department expressed concern that eventually the unedited tape would become public.
This became reality when the Boston Phoenix linked the unideted version later in the year. A week later, the publication included images of Pearl’s decapitated head in the hard copy of the paper.
The publication of the video by reputable news sources was unethical and disrespectful to the memory of a fellow journalist. While the story was important, there are limits on the graphic nature that should be available for viewers. Including the footage inspires hatred on both sides of the line. It not only brings awareness to Americans, but also terrorist sympathizers.
The inclusion of graphic decapitation photos in a newspaper is completely reckless. Publications which are accessible to the general public, including children, have a social responsibility to protect the readers.
It can be concluded that the publication of both the video and summary were unethical and disrespectful.