This post really set me off yesterday.
People are not props. This whole ‘being a journalist in a difficult place’ is not an excuse to ignore the fact that people, even poor people, yes, even poor people living in difficult places under difficult circumstances or in situations that a journalist finds atrocious, are human, with emotions and feelings and rights. And one of those rights is the right to privacy.
What gives a journalist the excuse to further violate the rights of someone who has already been through some kind of abuse or tragedy?
Individuals, especially children, especially especially children, especially especially especially children who have been through horrific experiences, are not objects or props to be insensitively identified, photographed, used and showcased for the glory of a journalist’s hot and hardcore career.
Did it ever occur to Graham Bowley that people may have been trying to protect the girl that he wanted so badly to get to so he could write his story? Did it ever occur to him that her life and her recovery were more important than his story?
It’s not up to a journalist to decide that the story of someone who survived something terrible should be used as an example for the world. It’s up to the individual to make that decision. And guess what? A person who has just suffered something horrific is often not in the best condition to make an informed decision. Especially if that person is a child.
It’s one thing if a person makes a conscious and willing choice to become a symbol or a spokesperson. It’s entirely another thing if someone else decides that a person who survived something terrible should be a symbol or spokesperson about an issue, without the agreement or informed consent of that person.
Can we show a little respect, please?
Update: If you want to do more than be pissed off about this, Wronging Rights has more on child rights, working with trauma survivors, and a cut and paste letter you can send over to the New York Times Public Editor to let them know how you feel.