When it's so hard to look

At the Newseum here in Washington is an exhibit of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs through the years. In there is the close-up of the gut-wrenching execution in Saigon, and the tragic image of the starving Sudanese infant as a vulture lurks. 

Now, courtesy of the latest installment of mass human cruelty and indifference, we have another iconic image. They tell you to use pictures to promote websites and blogs and to sell newspapers. But the photograph currently spanning the globe of the little toddler refugee from Syria, drowned in the Aegean Sea, his body beached in Turkey still wearing the little socks and shoes his mother must have carefully dressed him in that morning, is almost impossible to look at.

Some news organizations chose to sensitize the story by showing alternative images of the scene: one concealed the boy's face, another was shot from a distance showing just his lifeless legs in the arms of a respectful and clearly sorrowful Turkish soldier.

It is human nature to look away, but it is also important to show the reality.

This image, like many of the Pulitzer winners, might do more to change the course of a world atrocity than a million words in print. Let's hope so. As a journalist, it has to be shown. But as a father and a human being, I'm choosing not to include it here. 

Mark McDonald