Death Makes the NewsHow the Media Censor and Display the Dead

Death Makes the NewsHow the Media Censor and Display the Dead

Jessica M. Fishman

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780814770757

Publisher: NYU Press

Abstract

Because it is impossible to create an unfiltered mirror to reality, the news media selectively rely on particular pictures and words to shape our understanding of world events. The construction of news is never a random process, and photojournalism is far more than a mechanical undertaking. Because photographs literally craft boundaries, systematically hiding one reality while illuminating another, this book extensively examines how pictures represent tragedy, uncovering surprising editorial forces that persistently structure the way the news media cover death. Some deaths are concealed, while others are illustrated in great detail, and this book develops formulas predicting these fates. We see how deep political cleavages, especially those powered by nationalism, create remarkable patterns of visibility and invisibility. The patterns are striking, but they overturn long-held assumptions about which deaths are newsworthy, raising fundamental questions about the role of news images. This behind-the-scenes account shares many photographs, including images that were censored from the news. It also explores in-depth interviews with industry leaders who admit to self-censorship and industry censorship. It engages impassioned controversies over bearing witness, protecting privacy, and other sensitive topics.