Visual imagery has always been able to stir the emotions therefore a carefully selected picture in newspapers can influence and stir our emotions in seconds which is why editors have a obligation to select pictures that enhance and sit alongside the report.
The images that newspapers and broadcasters can use are regulated by rules of taste and discretion but ultimately it is down to the individual newspaper or station to what they show and if it steps outside the bounds of decency, it is them that face the complaints and any subsequent action.
As the World watches on in horror, we have the current ongoing Israel and Palestine conflict and with the invention of smartphones, everyone everywhere has a camera available and combine that with explosions in densely populated Palestinian areas where people are afforded little protection, there are some gruesome and grisly photographs being made available.
Bloggers, almost completely unhindered to write and post what they like, are also free to include any of the photographs available online that would not make it through the first stage of any selection process for publication or airing on television, but because they can does it also mean that they should?
I was at a fellow bloggers blog earlier and he has an emotive post setting out his view on the Palestinian crisis and a graphic of the shrinking Palestine to enhance his point but when you click on the continue reading link, a truly sickening and horrific image of an injured child hits you with the acknowledgement that the image is 'very unpleasant and disturbing' but justifying that 'it’s the reality of Palestine'.
To his partial credit, the horrific picture was not on the front page (albeit with no warning of what was to come) and as previously mentioned, it is down to the individual blogger what he or she chooses to put on their blog and that is as it should be, but that then also means that the responsibility then falls onto us bloggers to ensure that grotesque images are not made available to people who shouldn't see them.
The use of horrific and shocking pictures is a powerful and valid way of highlighting your argument but a seven year old won't much care for the moral stance taken to bring attention to a certain message, they will just see the horrific image in their mind over and over again when they close their eyes to sleep at night.
I refuse to use these images, i would prefer to take the long route and write the thousands words as we have to be aware that these pictures can and do have a detrimental effect on a young mind long after the conflict is over and we are now blogging about the latest pop sensation.
The alternative argument is of course that war is hell and to not show these images is sanitising conflict and not correctly reflecting what is happening and it is an argument i understand and have some sympathy with but is always trumped by the knowledge of knowing war is horrific and the moral implications of introducing children to that concept by way of a shockingly explicit picture of the victims of war is a moral decision for the conscience of each blog owner that write about these matters.