Journalistic Line?

I was going to write a post about a cool promotion that Wendy’s is running right now, but I am so disturbed by something I just read on Foreign Policy that I have to write about it.

Apparently CNN correspondent Sanjay Gupta used his medical training to treat some patients in Haiti, where he was reporting from a hospital after the Belgian staff had left due to safety concerns. The Foreign Policy piece argues that, even though it made people cringe to think that Gupta was being some kind of show-off, ultimately he did the right thing by helping out. You know, instead of letting those three patients he stabilized die. So that’s weird to start – how is there even a question that he did the right thing?

But then the article gets horrifying. They post this picture –

Image from Foreign Policy article

– fand tell the story behind it. The photographer discovered a starving little girl trying desperately to drag herself to a feeding tent. A vulture landed nearby to wait for the girl to die. The photographer, professional that he is, spent twenty minutes trying to get the best, most emotional shot. Then, after getting his Pulitzer Prize-winning shot, he chased the bird away and sat under a tree while the girl died.

Absolutely horrifying. But to top that, Foreign Policy says that this incident “raised uncomfortable questions about whether he should have helped the girl rather than simply watching her die.”

What?

I’m speechless. How is that even a question? How is it that journalism is so tied to its code of ethics that says “don’t become part of the story” that journalists would feel its acceptable to muse in public about whether it would have been okay to break that code to save a dying child?

That’s messed up.

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