Thursday, 7 May 2015

Compassion Fatigue

We are asked to comment on an article from Issue 23 of Foto8 – in which a surgeon with war experience and a photojournalist discuss whether there are images that should not be published. Oddly – given that the article layout appears to suggest a “two-sides” type debate – the two parties seem to agree. There are lines which should not be crossed – even if these lines are somewhat circumstance dependent. The doctor was not keen on publications of images he referred to as “medical pornography” – the journalist raised the interesting question of why the “falling man” image from 9/11 was considered inappropriate for publication while dead Taliban soldiers appeared acceptable. I’m sure that in our heart of hearts we know the answer to this – one will impact on sales, the other wont.

I struggled to find much in either argument about compassion fatigue so I’m unclear why the exercise has this heading – the nearest either author got was an admission in a quote from a picture editor that “..gore tends to distract from any emotion or feeling other than basic revulsion at the image rather than the tragedy that is being illustrated.” So not really compassion fatigue – more like getting in the way of a job that needs to be done. But perhaps my cynicism is simply a symptom of my own compassion fatigue.

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