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Scoop Link: UK's Guardian On Scoop's War Images

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Brutal reality hits home

Since Vietnam, the public has only seen a sanitised version of war. But the internet, with its unfettered access, has changed all that. Sean Dodson reports

Thursday August 21, 2003
The Guardian

For the full text of this article see…,2763,1024924,00.html

The warning comes before the image. A two-paragraph disclaimer justifying some of the most gruesome images of war you are likely to see. The first image is of a boy with his legs blown off. Then there is another child - face in close-up - with streams of blood pouring down his young face. The next is the head of a horribly burned man swathed in white bandages. It is followed by the swollen neck of a peace protester, the victim of wood pellets fired from a gun in Oakland. The website adds that the suspects are policemen.

These images - and some far, far worse - come courtesy of a New Zealand website that describes itself as a "fiercely independent internet news agency". For several months, Scoop Media has been publishing the kind of graphic images you rarely see in mass circulation newspapers or on western television. And, until now, rarely on the internet.


"To sanitise the reality of warfare is abhorrent," explains Scoop's editor, Alastair Thompson. "To censor images of capture, of death, as a consequence of war, is wrong. If Scoop were to do so, it would be subscribing to the glitzy rah rah Hollywood-facade-style of reportage that the mainstream United States-based media has become obsessed with."


You don't even have to look hard. Simply type "war graphic image iraq" into Google and you can see some of the most terrible images imaginable. Many are from IndyMedia sites, alternative news networks and Arab stations, but there are stranger bedfellows, too. Among Google's returns will be a site called, built by US anti-abortionists who rage against the war by cataloguing pictures of child atrocities. The left-wing Scoop Media has some surprising company.

Viewing these sites throws up a number of moral dilemmas. Are you being voyeuristic? Are the websites perversely triumphal? Are they simply preaching to the converted, providing nothing but war pornography? What about notions of taste and decency?

"Are taste and decency relevant standards when considering war?" asks Thompson. "War is horrible, it is grotesque, revolting and deeply disturbing. Why should it be any different for the public, in whose name the mayhem is being waged? This is not to say we did not have misgivings about publishing some images, we did."


For the full text of this article see…,2763,1024924,00.html

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