Was publishing photo of dead baby irresponsible?

Trinidad and Tobago News Blog

Newsday, August 31, 2009

Was Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday irresponsible for publishing this photo on the front page of its newspaper on August 31, 2009?

This has been a raging discussion in Trinidad and Tobago on radio talk shows with many stating that Newsday was irresponsible. Yesterday on 96.1 fm’s morning program, hosted by Tweez & Rachel Price, the two hosts chastised, Newsday for being irresponsible and insensitive for publishing the picture.

Today, Newsday has published an explanation:

Dead baby

Wednesday, September 2 2009
ON MONDAY, August 31,2009 our front page should have been covered in the national colours and we should have wished everyone the old clich “Happ[y] Independence”.

Instead, we printed a photograph of a baby lying at the side of the Solomon Hochoy Highway in the grass. The infant was dead. The photo was meant to shock. And shock it did judging by the letters and telephone calls we received accusing us of insensitivity, lack of human decency, disgraceful and such like comments. Like readers we were pained to see this photograph of a one-year old beautiful doll-like child lying dead in a patch of grass. But we deliberately, and after much thought, published the photo in the hope, which we hope will not be in vain, to sensitise people about the escalating carnage on our roads. The figure to date is 139.
Full Article : newsday.co.tt

What are your views on this?

Trinidad and Tobago News Blog’s URL for this article:

26 thoughts on “Was publishing photo of dead baby irresponsible?”

  1. What a shame!!! As for the pathetic justification you gave – heartless!! As a newspaper with the ability to reach the masses, what are your proposals for stopping the carnage?? Why have you not hounded the relevant authorities into passing the necessary bills to stop this madness? Instead you disregard the feelings of this poor family to make a point? All my facebook contacts and our families will certainly NOT be buying your newspapaer again.

  2. In my view most of the media personnel in T&T (print and radio) have no damn sense anyhow so they dont know the difference between
    acting responsibly and not.
    As for those on TV they cant even read properly.

  3. It is amazing that you Jeanne and so many others are still not seeing what really needs to be seen. You make this about the newspaper being heartless instead of making this about the parents being heartless and irresponsible to their own child; about the government being heartless and irresponsible and not enforcing laws. The father should be charged for murder but no one is talking about that. If only we could charge the government for their reckless behavior for not enforcing laws. It is obvious our own people can’t be responsible for their own lives by driving carefully, we need the law to be enforced. I drive up and down the highways and not one police stopping anyone for speeding. I see people speeding in the presence of the police and not being stopped. Why aren’t the police stopping and checking for drunk drivers, and parents with children not strapped in to car seats??? Let’s get to the REAL matter at hand. And not let the matter be about NEWSDAY photo but about the LAWLESSNESS in this country and the government doing NOTHING!

  4. I just could not have believed my eyes to see an innocent baby’s body exposed “for the sake of a picture”. That photographer should be reprimaned and apology made to the family of this accident by Newsday Papers. We Trinis are still refusing to change with the times. Thank God I left Trinidad 32 years ago as a teenager and migrated to America. That deceased baby’s body should have been covered for the sake of “respect”. I thought that the picture was that of a doll on the grass. My condolences to the family of this nightmare. Newsday should review their policies to prevent this atrocity from reoccuring in a lost country.
    Jennifer Tetenbaum, NY

  5. Your justification for printing the picture is also shameful. Why not use your medium to educate the public and press the authorities to pass legislations for the use of seatbelts. Now that the public is against your methods you are trying to justify your actions. The media have for long doing what is please in the name of freedom of the press. Shame on you. What about the right of the indicidual? There are toher ways of getting your point across. The cheapest way is not always the best.

  6. I thought that it was certainly in poor taste and extremely irresponsible journalism. Could you imagine how the father, brother and other relatives feel after viewing this photo and having to look at it in years to come. Buck up Newsday.

  7. While the image of the dead baby may be shocking and reactions to it are understandably emotional, there is nothing wrong with the Newsday’s decision to place the image on the front-page of their newspaper. When I read the story and comments about it, I had to think about the issue long and hard before coming to the decision that it was not wrong to show the image. Death is a tabooed subject and the death of a child due to circumstances such as this is very concerning. However, death is a reality and quite frankly, people need to get over it and come to terms with their own mortality.

  8. MAYBE NOW people will wear their seatbelts,get car seats for their children instead of having them in their laps,stop driving recklessly on the roads.It might have been alittle hard for the family to see but I know seeing a picture like that will make me think before I jump into a car WITH SOMEONE WHOSE BEEN DRINKING, Driving carelessly or just not paying attention to the roads. But the again it is Trinidad the land of no remorse or regards for oneselves far less OTHERS. I have always look to the Newsday to keep me up to speed of the craziness in Trinidad and Tobago and I will continue to do so. As for the family MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU IN THIS TIME OF GRIEF…

  9. The Newsday obviously wanted shock value by placing the image on their front page and they certainly got that reaction. However, I think that most people who are aggrieved and are talking about the insensitivity to the family are themselves being inconsiderate. They are assuming that the family was offended by the image in the papers, but I have not read or heard any family member complain about the image. Even so, what is the big deal with that image? People are reacting strongly to the wrong thing. What about all the reckless driving on the roads? What about the state’s failure to implement the Breathalyzer Bill? What about how many parents transport children badly in their cars — without seat belts and child seats? I think the overwhelming condemnation of Newsday is over-the-top and definitely misplaced.

  10. It was shameless, inconsiderate, heartless and irresponsible. I was so ashamed to think that educated people would publshed a picture like this. Think about how the family felt seeing this plastered all over the newspaper. They should publish a public apology, not only to the people of T&T but to the families as well. Being a mother, my heart was so broken to see a picture of that baby. So very sad.

  11. I am writing this comment without reading the comments of others.
    Yes, Newsday, you were irresponsible. No respected paper from which we derive our standards in the UK or the US, would have done that. They would have recognized that such a picture would cause unbearable pain to the family for a long time. It is the reason we are not permitted to mention the names of rape victims, or to videotape hangings.
    In the last twenty years or so, a lot of what Elaine(my late mother) would have called “slackness” has crept into media work, and sometimes, it seems that the competition for ratings devolves to who has the most gruesome front page.
    One cannot take back a picture published, but know, that to all who looked at it, it must have been offensive.Everyone would think “if that was my child…”
    Newsday, from its inception, seemed to have been called into being to fulfill a need that was not being met by the current papers.
    This picture was worthy of the Punch, The Mirror and other weeklies.

    I am sure you already realize that.
    My question would be where was the editor when this format was being approved? Standards have to be reset, and prominently posted and adhered too. Across this front page I would recommend that you write in bold letters NEVER AGAIN, and post it all around the office, so as to serve as a daily reminder of your not going there, ever! It is my policy to criticize, and offer a solution.

    Linda Edwards

  12. Comment # 2
    We already have a seat-belt law, put in place in 1984-85 when Richardson Henry was Transport Commissioner. I know this because I helped supply data for an eduation campaign, obtained from the the US Sec.Of Transportation, an mailed home in the diplomatic pouch.

    What we also have is parents who ignore the laws about child safety as people ignore every other law on the books when it suits their convenence. The shock value of this picture would wear off. Do pictures of dramatic crash sites reduce speeding? No. We still say “he gi me a bad drive” forgeting that if we were driving at or below the speed limit, we could have taken evasive action. Would putting up crosses at the sites of fatal crashes prevent crashes? NO to that too. Harris County, Texas, has the greatest number of fatal drunk driving accidents in the entire USA. There are crosses littering the sides of the highways where people came to a sudden stop- of their lives, yet people drive like bats out of hell. The highway speed is 70MPH in most places,people do ninety and when there is a crasjh, car and driver are scraped from the road, just like in TnT.They drag race, and use cell phones while speeding also.

    Education about driving safely has to begin early, be drilled almost daily and fines for speeding be made steep and almost immediate,to make a difference. In the state of Virginia US, drivers are arrested, imprisoned and cars towed until fines are paid.I knew a guy who paid with his watch and his spare tire, in order to continue to a family event.On his way back he retrieved his watch and his spare,by paying in cash, and learned a lesson.

    That sort of policy, advocated by Newsday, would make a difference.

  13. I can quite understand the reaction of some people regarding the publication of the photo of the dead baby. The newspaper’s justification is hypocritical as it is obvious that the main reason for publishing such a picture was pecuniary: it was meant to sell as many newspapers as possible.
    However, a very interesting and pertinent commentary was submitted by someone who underlined our inability to come to terms with death, by and large a taboo subject in our society. I would like to think that the newspaper obtained prior permission from the family to publish the photo, which would make the argument of the family’s pain at seeing such a photo null and void. One must ask oneself what is really shocking in that photo besides the fact that the baby is dead. It is indeed a very sad and powerful picture for it touches us in an extremely sensitive way. If publishing it could maybe save as much as one life by contributing to changing our driving habits, then it was the right thing to do.

  14. They should have better sense than that.For big people to do than,they really need to check inn to st.Anns cause it look like they out of it.Come on not everything is about money, have consideration an ah lil respect for the Family an the Dead..

  15. Many people want to remain in denial about this issue. Here is your precious baby, that you love so much, lying dead in the grass. I see people with children sitting in the front seat, or even standing in the front seat. Yet when one suggests that people wear seat belts, people think you are silly, or making too much out of it. The laws are there to protect us, yet, its not until the police enforce the laws, by charging those who break them. However until this is done, we will continue to read about dead babies, and dead mothers, dead fathers who still wanted act as though they are invincible, and God will protect them. The real shame is on those who fail to protect themselves and their children. Jil

  16. That was terrible. Posting a picture of a dead baby on the cover of a newspaper only causes resentment toward that paper. In doing so, the paper seems to be sending the message that they don’t care about the community in which they report.
    Children should be off limits and there should not be close up pictures of anyone dead. Who wants to see that when they wake up?

  17. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

    All i did was look at the photo on the front cover and i know what your intention was. i wish it could have been a different story but it was the only story to be told. My condolence to the family, and i hope thay sees the positive intent. I don’t know much about that stretch of Hi-way but i do know about the mosquito creek the worst in the country byfar. Continue the good work for change and call it is you see it. Trini/Bago people open your eyes.


  18. I agree with the paper and richard. It is a bit shocking at first I was angry but after debating with a number of personnels it had to be done, how would you feel if you were in their position, when you are in a vehicle it is mandatory for you to place a child in a safety seat in the states you can’t even leave the hospital without a car seat. The fact we as Trinidadians refuse to look at the bigger picture it was a sad thing to see but some times we need a harsh reality call if the mother was seated in the back seat with the child as the law states and wearing a seatbelt she and the baby may have been alive today but that is not the case now is it. The father appologises to his deceased family for not following proper road safety and that is why he is in this position today. Let’s face it Trinidad when it come to the laws of the road we don’t follow so who are we to judge the paper when their reasons was to wake us up. And it has now I know all of us would be using our seatbelts to ensure our safety too many persons are dying on the road and you don’t seem to get the picture.

  19. Dear Newsday
    i think you are right to show this picture of this lovely baby to bring home to Trinidadians the importance of driving safely. i have recently been home and i have seen drivers drinking beer whilst driving, using their mobiles. going through red lights, no seatbelts, seats adjusted as if they are going to bed. i am not surprised you do not have more accidents.

  20. http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_opinion?id=161594892

    Would somebody please tell these local politicians to stop the daily distraction nonsense about alleged attacks to their lives, and that of family every time they feel that ‘water more than flour,’ when it comes to their occasional love/hate situation across the country as portrayed by the complicit corporate press.
    First we had Senor Basdeo Panday who once claimed that his daughters lives were threatened even all the way across , safe haven Scotland , and now this by future ‘Presidente’ Patrick Manning.Where in the world out side tin pan dictators enclaves in parts of Africa ,and Asia ,do citizens have to ingest such tomfooleries on a daily basis?
    Please tell them both , there is no need to worry , as our remaining patriotic ,’extremely competent security forces’ led by our boys and gals in blue , would always protect and serve them now, and long into the future. As such ,they’ll never, ever, again allow any religious -com -military styled banditry to take place in our country, like that which took place in 1990 by pro Islamist Bakr and his gangsters.
    Have them know that the desperate people of the tolerant nation forgave them ,even though during that fateful day and long after ,as they reminisce and choose to laugh like stupid drunken ,hyaenas at the thought of then PM Robbie the Castaria kid ,getting a bullet in his knees, and a gun butt on his head for his selfless , suicidal audacity , in standing up to thuggery.
    Inform them that we the gullible public on both sides of the so called divide fully appreciate, and even understand why thy both would choose to ‘let sleeping dogs lie,’ as it were , and not call for an Independent Commission of Enquiry on this matter,as a means to developing some closure , and honor those dedicated and hard working civil service folks that died on that fateful day.
    Although our under appreciated , yet over worked Police Officers have to deal with the underlying growing criminal menace that prevails across our nation, including the carnage on our roads by often drunken , uncaring, and callous drivers and operators of defective vehicle ,on subpar roads, they still have their backs , and so they need not fear about any harm coming their way, in any form or fashion.
    During the past two decades , our image might have taken a dent or two, a few possible local and foreign induce business ventures might have been thwarted, but who cares when you have oil and gas in abundance?
    Now if only the members of the 4th estate would choose to focus on real crisis ,as opposed to falling prey for the usual escapist titillations fodder that our leaders and minions choose to feed us, wouldn’t that be fine and dandy in Sweet T&T aka Rainbow Country?

  21. Perhaps if more people were exposed to images like this one, more people would be inclined to use child safety restraints, then there would be fewer images like this to publish. This is reality whether you like it or not. If you don’t believe me, get a job in an emergency room!

  22. I now came across this page and saw this picture with the baby while doing a research. Why put this picture? I saw it and it was just so unbelievable. It looked as though the baby is asleep. But then the thought of baby in a patch of grass asleep? Something must be wrong right? I then read the headlines and was stunned. All the speeding laws and drinking and driving laws and other accidents and deaths. And a baby on the front page just to get across a message?? Btw I don’t think many people got the memo…we still have a lot of road accidents. And no it wasn’t worth a try…

  23. That’s where you are wrong, and absolutely out of touch Anna. I applaud Newsday wholeheartedly for their action . You too ,hopefully would be prepared to act responsibly on the road by buckling up ,avoid using your phones and cell phones when driving, and speeding or driving like a drunken fool while on our roads.
    Likewise you’ll admonish anyone you see that operate outside the compliance of our laws to do otherwise , and that was because you too was appalled at this blatant premature ,loss of life by an innocent, defenseless ,child that depended on her parents for full protection both at home ,and while on the streets of Sweet T&T.
    It is a pity that more of our citizens ,are not as outraged at these and similar ,wanton loss of lives via negligent RTA manslaughters , as they are to often fake kidnapping and other love interplays gone array Anna.
    Ah yes, the former are not politically sexy enough eh? I stand corrected , and would await the timid comments by the phonies led by the selectively outraged, hmmmmmm?

  24. all respects to the family of the baby but T T really need to come up with something drastic as this for people to understand what is it to be careful on the road.

  25. http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2009/08/woman_in_fatal_crash_after_dri.html

    Perhaps it’s globalization at work , you just never know , ehhh Gotpie?


    Have a ‘lil faith in you people,’ Gotpie, for ‘dey’ only what 47 years as a nation? Remember we are divided but like it so, as it helps us hold on to our tenuous economic spoils- what ever that is -and unlike Canada, USA , Australia, England , Sweden China, India ,white savage Apartheid South Africa and ‘dem great places,’ have the worst leaders on the face of the earth, so what do you expect?
    Now you do not want to see us spending monies on Privy council appeals as we are forced to fight cases to convict folks charged with manslaughter for drunken driving in our country , do you?

  26. Responsible people are the ones that drive safely and make sure that there children are properly secured as they travel. Drastic measures by the news media will not correct the irresponsible behavior of alcoholics in a single news cycle. Drunk drivers aren’t concerned with who they may harm. They probably aren’t reading this story or glancing at the front page. Those that did glance at the picture probably just used it as an excuse to drink.
    The media can raise awareness through the testimony of victims who have suffered loss as a result of drunk driving or any other reckless and irresponsible behavior behind the wheel. Any further action to alert citizens is the responsibility of the government through punishment. If they do not hear they will feel.
    In the U.S., Drinking and Driving can be a money earner for some state and local governments. A person found guilty of such crime has to pay court cost and fees, traffic tickets, lawyers fees (unless they had a public defender) Drivers license expenses along with a combination of fees and penalties associated with just the drivers license alone including ignition interlock devices that cost as much as $300.00(U.S.) for instillation and about $90.00 a month for maintenance. A Drunk Driving conviction can cost an individual Time in jail and up to $10,000.
    If done right, not only will the government of TNT earn money, but the public will be begging for better public transportation such as a railway system.
    The bottom line is that there are other ways to lower drinking and driving that are beneficial to the public rather than trying to capitalize on shock. Responsible people will usually make the right decision without the injection of fear.

Comments are closed.