Since photography’s rudimentary beginnings, the medium has played an instrumental role in our understanding of conflict. Today, with the rise of social media and more affordable camera technology, we’re confronted with more images of war than ever before; graphic photos of battles in Syria taken by civilians with cellphone cameras regularly enter our Twitter feeds while equally shocking videos circulate on YouTube. We discuss how these images influence our perception of modern day conflicts and ask war photographers how it affects their work on the front lines.

Guests

  • Moises Saman Photographer, Magnum Photos
  • Robert King Photojournalist and videographer
  • Susan Linfield Director, Cultural Reporting and Criticism program, New York University; author, "The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence"
  • MaryAnne Golon Director of Photography, Washington Post

Transcript

  • 13:21:20

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIVery few of us have ever encountered the horrors of war firsthand. Instead our understanding of conflict is shaped by the images, videos and words transmitted by journalists on the frontlines. Eighty years ago Robert Capa encapsulated the futility of the Spanish Civil War with a photo of a Loyalist fighter as he's struck by a sniper bullet. Fifty years ago Eddie Adams shocked our entire nation when he photographed a Vietcong prisoner moments before his execution.

  • 13:21:47

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIAnd last year, YouTube videos of Syrian civilians struggling to breathe after a chemical attack sparked outrage around the world. In today's information age we're faced with more images of war than ever before taken by civilians with cell phone cameras as often as they are by experienced photo journalists. Here to discuss the changing landscape of war photography and how it's shaping our views of modern day conflict is MaryAnne Golon. She is director of photography for the Washington Post. She previously directed photography at Time Magazine and at U.S. News and World Report. MaryAnne, welcome.

  • 13:22:23

    MS. MARYANNE GOLONThank you, Kojo.

  • 13:22:25

    NNAMDIShe joins us in studio. Joining us from studios at NPR's Brian Park in New York is Susie Linfield, director of the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at New York University, and author of a book "Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence." Susie Linfield, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:22:43

    MS. SUSAN LINFIELDThank you.

  • 13:22:44

    NNAMDIMaryAnne, some of us may feel that we cannot avoid gruesome photos of war. They make their way into our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram feeds. But surely as director of photography, you see a lot more. How would you describe images of war today like those coming out of the civil war currently ravaging Syria? And how do you think they compare to the images that we've seen of past conflicts?

  • 13:23:05

    GOLONWell, I think that war photography is very much a genre. And I don't think that pictures that we're seeing coming out of Syria are any worse or any better than images from other warzones that we've seen over the years. I think the images from Syria now have huge question marks around them because we don't have a lot of professional journalists working in the area due to the kidnappings and the danger for westerners to work. So I think we have more questions raised by the images in terms of their legitimacy.

  • 13:23:41

    NNAMDISusie, for a century-and-a-half photography has changed how we view war. We mentioned Robert Capa earlier. His photos brought the world to the frontlines of battles in the Spanish Civil War and elsewhere. Today images of wars up close, both gruesome and graphic, are widely accessible. How do you think that influenced the outside world's perception of the conflict?

  • 13:24:02

    LINFIELDYeah, I guess I would disagree a little bit with what was just said by the Washington Post -- the esteemed Washington post photo editor. I do think that images of war have changed a lot. One of the things you see in the Syrian conflict -- this didn't start with Syria but I think it's most dramatic in Syria is images that are made by perpetrators of atrocities. These are not images that are taken to protest violence or to protest atrocity. They're images taken by the perpetrators themselves of executions of tortures, extremely, extremely graphic and disgusting images.

  • 13:24:45

    LINFIELDAnd then they're circulated all over the world. They're on Tumbler, they're on YouTube, they're sent through all sorts of social media accounts. So, yeah, I do think that there is something different. A lot of the images that we're seeing coming out of Syria have nothing in common with what we think of as traditional war photography.

  • 13:25:06

    NNAMDIAre you saying that they're both quantitatively and qualitatively different? After all, the Nazis had photographers who took photos of death camps during World War II.

  • 13:25:15

    LINFIELDThey did. And the Nazis, of course, are the precursor. They were somewhat unusual in the ways that they documented their atrocities. They actually didn't take that many in the camps themselves but they certainly took them in the ghettos on the eastern front. There were a couple of official photographers in Auschwitz, although places like Sobibor and Treblinka were really closed zones. There are no photographs from those extermination camps.

  • 13:25:41

    LINFIELDBut one of the differences is that the Nazis did not try -- even they knew that the world might not approve of what they were doing. And they didn't actually -- they were not the ones who were sending these images, let's say, to western newspapers. A lot of the images of Nazi atrocities that were sent to the western press at that time were sent by partisans, by people working underground, by the Polish underground, by the Soviets. It wasn't the Nazis themselves who were circulating these images and saying, look how great this is.

  • 13:26:16

    LINFIELDThey did publish some of them in Germany but for -- no, they were not sending these images, let's say, to the New York Times and saying, look at Auschwitz, how great it is. So, yeah, there is -- the Nazis are the precursor of these atrocity photographs for sure. And there certainly have been other conflicts where we've seen these kinds of photographs, the Khmer Rouge photograph people in their torture center S21. There are other examples. But again, they were not publishing those pictures. They were actually hiding those pictures. It was the Vietnamese who discovered them when they overthrew the Khmer Rouge.

  • 13:26:55

    LINFIELDWhat I think is really different now, and I think it's very hard to get one's head around this, is that in Syria both sides -- it's not just the Jihadists, it's Assad's army too, although I suspect it's more common in terms of the Jihadists, are publicizing their cause, are recruiting on the basis of images of atrocities that they themselves take.

  • 13:27:22

    NNAMDIMaryAnne Golon, would you say that because those images are coming to us, not necessarily through journalistic sources, that they are nevertheless having an effect on how we view wars?

  • 13:27:36

    GOLONWell, certainly I agree with esteemed New York University professor. The perpetrators of atrocities have been photographing things like this. We had the image with our own army from Abu Ghraib of torture being photographed by the torturers. However, the legitimacy of a lot of these images we have to question on both sides, on the Assad regime side as well as on the free Syrian and Assad's side of the Syrian conflict.

  • 13:28:18

    GOLONWe've seen a lot of setup photography that's made to look journalistic that's really not as it appears. That's what I was referring to when you asked me the first question. We have to very carefully consider the sources of the images and then have independent reporting done on some of the background of who's making the photographs, why they're making the photographs, whether they're partisan. It's -- at the beginning of this conflict there was a lot of journalistic coverage. But it's become impossible for westerners to work there now.

  • 13:28:53

    NNAMDIOnce the only way the outside world could observe the frontlines of a conflict was through photojournalists or military photographers. Now increasingly civilians on the ground and, as Susie points out, including combatants have access to cameras. And they're using them to document what's happening around them. What does that mean in your view for war photographers? What is the relevancy of their work today?

  • 13:29:13

    GOLONWell, I think you're never going to take away the relevancy of photography as a medium for coverage of things like conflict. I think that citizen journalism is incredibly important, especially when you can't have other people there, but I don't find it to be that new. I think we've all been photographers for quite some time now. With the proliferation of cell phones throughout the world now we have more cell phone photographer that -- and we're inundated with more images than we ever have been before in history.

  • 13:29:50

    GOLONBut I feel that the images -- the coverage that professionals are able to do still stand apart in a pretty dramatic way from what we've become accustomed to as citizen journalism.

  • 13:30:02

    NNAMDIMaryAnne Golon is director of photography for the Washington Post. She previously directed photography at Time Magazine and U.S. News and World Report. She joins us in studio. Joining us from studios in New York is Susie Linfield, director of the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at New York University and author of the book "Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political violence."

  • 13:30:22

    NNAMDIIf you have questions or comments, call us at 800-433-8850. As a photo editor, MaryAnne, and then same question to you, Susie, you're sorting through photos deciding what the Washington post coverage should look like, what about a war should an image capture. Our first -- I guess we should ask, what about a war can an image capture?

  • 13:30:43

    GOLONWell, many different things. I mean, we all know that war is hell. We've said that for years. but I think what you can show is what the effect on the people are on the ground. You can show what the military -- how the military's basing itself and where they're fighting. You can deal with refugee situations very well, trying to get people out.

  • 13:31:10

    GOLONI think the images are very, very helpful for helping the people who are involved inside the conflict, be it the combatants themselves, more importantly civilians.

  • 13:31:23

    NNAMDISusie, now that we're being deluged with images from wars often by partisans in that conflict, what difference -- what are the differences in the images that we're now seeing?

  • 13:31:37

    LINFIELDWell, this fall I was a judge at the World Press Photo contest which is sort of the equivalent of the Pulitzers for the photography world. And that's a contest for professional photographers from all over the world. And, yeah, you can definitely tell the difference. Partially it's a matter frankly of technique, just as you can tell the difference between someone who can write emails and someone who can write a novel or a book.

  • 13:32:04

    LINFIELDI mean, you know, we can all write but then there are people who are writers. So, yeah, we can all take photographs but there are people who are photographers. It's partially a question of technique. It's partially a question, I think, of being able to discern what the telling detail is, that especially in a chaotic situation, which war is, not just battle but, you know, civilian life also, how do you pick out that person or that detail which is both singular which is unique and yet which also speaks to and can be a metaphor for a larger condition or a larger issue.

  • 13:32:43

    LINFIELDAnd I think that that's one thing that really, really good and great photographers can do that I cannot do. I'm not a photographer. I don't really know how to do that. I'm a critic but there are photographers who really know how to do that. And their images are very powerful.

  • 13:33:02

    LINFIELDBut again, one thing that I think is different, you started off talking about Robert Capa. I mean, Robert Capa and the other photographers who worked with him in Spain, they were very partisan. They weren't really photographing the futility of the conflict. They actually believed that that war was necessary, that it was a stand against fascism. Hitler was aiding Franco. And they had a very partisan purpose. They very, very much wanted the western democracies to intervene on the side of the Spanish Republic.

  • 13:33:32

    LINFIELDWith Syria it's, I think, very different and much more complicated. Even the best photographers I know, the best journalists I know are very, very, very confused about the political situation there. What should we the west do, if anything, maybe nothing.

  • 13:33:49

    LINFIELDSo again, the photographs I think -- I do think some very good photographs are coming from professional journalists though. It is for sure very, very hard for journalists who are photographers to work there now. But you do have some very good work coming out. But again it's coming out into a western press and a western audience that I think is confused not so much by the photographs themselves but by the larger political situation to which the photographs speak.

  • 13:34:20

    NNAMDIHere is Steve in Washington, D.C. Steve, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:34:25

    STEVEThank you, Kojo and guest. I lost my innocence, I'll say, in my 50's when I first looked at one of the Jihadist videos and watched them sawing some poor man's head off in what I guess they thought was an elaborate and attractive set with some banner in the background and so on. And my guess is that they were trying to -- you know, they were disseminating this clearly and were either trying to frighten the sort of, you know, isolated westerners or something.

  • 13:34:58

    STEVEBut what -- the effect it had on me was disgust and anger with them. And if they had some purpose in disseminating that, maybe we weren't the demographic they were looking at, but I found it horrific. And the same thing coming out of Syria where they're sort of, you know, eating people's hearts in the photos or whatever. I don't know who they're trying to appeal to but if I were their, you know, press agent, I would tell them they're doing an absolutely rotten job if what they're trying to do is get the masses on their side.

  • 13:35:32

    NNAMDISteve, thank you very much for your call. You raise a number of questions. The first I'll put to MaryAnne Golon and that is, obviously whatever media you're working for, you have to keep in mind who your readership is, or in my case, who your listenership is. And so when partisans provide photos from wars, or in this case videos and photos from wars, and you look at them, you have to think, as our caller says, about the demographic that it's intended for. It may not have the effect on the demographic that reads your paper as on the demographic that the people who posted the video wanted it to have.

  • 13:36:06

    GOLONYeah, I mean, there are questions of taste that are very, very important in all media, large and small of how much is too much for your reader to see. I mean, as a photo editor for 30 years in the business I've seen things that would never get published, neither overseas nor in the United States in the takes of photographers that are in a certain place.

  • 13:36:34

    GOLONSo you have to look at how far is too far. And you need to pay attention to not being accused of yellow journalism by enraging people or provoking people by stepping over any sort of boundaries like that. I think that in the United States, particularly in the U.S. news press corps, we're more conservative than in many other countries. In Europe and Asia you'll see far more graphic war photos than you do in the states.

  • 13:37:09

    NNAMDISusie Linfield, care to comment?

  • 13:37:11

    LINFIELDYeah, I think we're mixing apples and oranges a little bit here. What your caller is referring to, the Jihadist videos, obviously those are not going to play on CNN or ABC News or the news...

  • 13:37:25

    NNAMDIBut they'll nevertheless get very wide viewership.

  • 13:37:29

    LINFIELDExactly. And their intended viewership is quite specific. It is not you. It is not me. It is not Steve. They don't care what we -- the people who make videos like that do not care what we think. These are used as recruiting tools. And looking here actually at a very long article in the Financial Times of London recently called Jihad by Social Media. And it talks exactly about this, about these videos -- still photographs but more likely videos that are posted and that are being used as recruitment tools, especially for young Muslim men in the west who are flocking to Syria.

  • 13:38:12

    LINFIELDIt's also addressed at young Muslim men in other Arab countries. There's been a huge, huge influx of fighters into Syria. It is no longer a civil war. It is an international war. And the kinds of photographs that you're -- videos that you're speaking of are being used really as recruitment tools.

  • 13:38:33

    NNAMDIJoining us now by phone are two photographers who have documented conflict for more than a decade. From Barcelona we have Moises Saman. He is a photographer with Magnum Photos. He's documented wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere. Moises, thank you very much for joining us.

  • 13:38:50

    MR. MOISES SAMANThank you for having me.

  • 13:38:51

    NNAMDIAnd joining us from Memphis, Tennessee is Robert King. He's a photojournalist and videographer. He's covered numerous conflicts including those in Rwanda, Iraq and most recently Syria. Robert, thank you for joining us. I'll start with you. You've stepped into the middle of combat zones to photograph the events of war with civilians and activists in places like Syria now using cell phones to share photos of the war around them. Do you think the role of a conflict photographer like yourself has changed at all?

  • 13:39:18

    MR. ROBERT KINGThank you, Kojo, for having me on your show. I think the role of photography for me personally has changed dramatically. You know, our cameras have changed. And there's really, you know, a new language that's this visual language where everyone has a cell phone in their pockets is allowing for such large amounts of videos and still images being taken, whether they're partisans or within the media departments of different groups or different cities or they're just civilians that are photographing what's going on around them. So I think it's a new language and people are trying to interpret this new language. It's been going on forever. But now everyone has this capability of using moving and still images as a language.

  • 13:40:18

    NNAMDIMoises, in a conflict like the Syrian Civil War, both sides are trying to sway the international community in their favor. As a photographer on the ground, how do you both ensure that your coverage of the war is objective and at the same time protect your own safety in a highly partisan environment?

  • 13:40:37

    SAMANWell, I think it's extremely to do that when you're on the ground. And I mean, in my particular case, I mean what I find helpful is just to really don't take anything for granted -- anything that I'm given access to an area or if I'm given access to a certain group. I just try to really kind of, you know, take things like with a grain of salt in a way.

  • 13:41:03

    SAMANAnd I think it's, you know, for a lot of us, as, you know, all this access to these areas is becoming more and more difficult, you know, obviously our coverage suffers. And I think that the challenge now is to stay honest with the work that you're doing, while, you know, especially in these very complicated situations where the story's not clear. There's not the good guys and the bad guys anymore. It's way more complicated than that.

  • 13:41:31

    NNAMDIAllow me to have David in Bethesda address a question, which I think I would like each of our panelists to answer. But, David, it's your turn.

  • 13:41:38

    DAVIDYes. Kojo, thanks for taking my call. Just a quick question. I am interested in knowing what your views are on the battle that obviously has to take place between your professional responsibility of informing and your human responsibility of preserving human dignity with somebody's pictures? If you have some anecdotes, I'd appreciate it. I'll take my answer off the air.

  • 13:42:03

    NNAMDII'll start with you, Robert. And then we'll run the table.

  • 13:42:09

    KINGYou know, I try to give it 100 percent of my capability as a journalist to preserve human dignity. You know, everyone has a definition of what dignity is. And that's all I could really say.

  • 13:42:26

    NNAMDII'll go next to you, MaryAnne.

  • 13:42:29

    GOLONYeah, it's very, very important, as Robert said, I think for a professional photojournalist to respect their subjects. And I think that that's what Robert's speaking to. Sometimes in these situations, you feel, again, there's always like a line that's too far, a step too far. It's interesting to me in talking about this new visual language of citizen journalism and people on the ground, that their photography is so raw. It's part of that learning, you know, whether it's an atrocity that's being photographed or simply the disruption of a daily life for a family whose house is bombed.

  • 13:43:10

    NNAMDISusie Linfield?

  • 13:43:13

    LINFIELDWell, that's a very complicated question, because one of the things that war does and one of the things that suffering often does is that it robs people of dignity. And I think that sometimes it's actually necessary to show that. And I think that sometimes also, the victims or the sufferers in these situations want that shown -- that they want what is done to them shown. So I -- and what is being done to them is undignified.

  • 13:43:47

    LINFIELDSo I think that that's a very, very complicated question. And it goes again to who takes a photograph, for what purpose, et cetera, et cetera. But I think it's utopian to think that people emerge from terrible cataclysmic political events with their dignity intact. Often they don't. They've been robbed of that. And that's something I think that we also need to see and grapple with.

  • 13:44:14

    NNAMDIMoises Saman, what is your approach?

  • 13:44:17

    SAMANWell, it's very complicated question. And I would agree with Susie. I would add, though, that I think where we come in and what I'd like to think that we can contribute to this discussion is hopefully that we can bring a certain sensitivity as photographers that have done this kind of work for a long, long time, and that we've seen these type of situations and horrible kind of scenes for the -- for, you know, several years. And, you know, I think this part about sensitivity issue should be really important, sometimes even more than being objective as a journalist. And I think that's where photographers that have been doing this for a long time have this experience that can apply to these situations.

  • 13:45:03

    NNAMDIBut Susie Linfield and MaryAnne Golon, given the ubiquity of cell phones and given the increase in the number of images that we're seeing from conflicts, is it possible, is it likely that the public appetite in the United States is now willing to see more graphic images than we have in the past? Is now more willing to see the kinds of graphic images that you talk about that people tend to be able to see in places like Europe and in Asia? I'll start with you, MaryAnne.

  • 13:45:32

    GOLONI don't think for our readership at the Washington Post. And I don't feel that by distributing images over the Internet that you're doing anything different than the perpetrators, if it's graphic images of death or torture, et cetera. I think our readership is very conservative for the most part. And we are a little more graphic, if you will, on the Web than we are in the print newspaper, because it's laying on people's breakfast tables, who have children, et cetera. But I don't see it making people more likely to want to look at graphic images simply from being forced to look at them through these recruitment tools, as Susie calls them.

  • 13:46:22

    NNAMDISusie Linfield, let's take that national. Is our -- as a culture, is our appetite for graphic images expanding because of the proliferation of more and more graphic images?

  • 13:46:33

    LINFIELDWell, it's a big country and there are a lot of different people in it. I suspect that the people who are looking at the jihadist beheading videos are a particular group of people. I don't think that most people are looking at those. I, myself, cannot bear to look at them. But I think that one of the very odd things about the whole Syrian conflict is that although there are many, many, many images coming out of all sorts, I don't think Americans are particularly interested one way or the other, to tell the truth. I don't see any particular political interest in Washington.

  • 13:47:11

    LINFIELDCertainly I don't think throughout the country there is any particular interest. So, in a way, it's -- the images can't really make people interested in something that there isn't the -- some sort of political groundswell to be interested in. The images in themselves can't do that. So, frankly, I think that the Washington Post or The New York Times could print every day on their front page for the next year, a picture of a Syrian refuge, of a Syrian child who's been bombed, and I don't think that most Americans would care very much one way or the other. The images cannot create an atmosphere of mobilization or of care.

  • 13:47:57

    NNAMDIGot to take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue this conversation of the role of images in war. But you can still call us at 800-433-8850. Has an image ever changed your understanding of war? Tell us how. In an age where every cell phone has a camera, do you think professional war photographers are still important? 800-433-8850. Or send email to kojo@wamu.org. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:50:12

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're talking about the role of images in war. We're talking with Robert King. He's a photojournalist and videographer who joins us from Memphis, Tenn. Moises Saman is a photographer with Magnum Photos. He joins us by phone from Barcelona. Susie Linfield is director of the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at New York University and author of the book, "The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence." She joins us from studios in New York.

  • 13:50:36

    NNAMDIAnd here in our Washington studio is MaryAnne Golon, director of photography for the Washington Post. She previously directed photography at Time Magazine and U.S. News and World Report. MaryAnne, conditions in Syria have deteriorated over the past year, making it too dangerous for most Western photojournalists, forcing wire agencies like Reuters to rely largely on freelance photographers on the ground. How do you think that has affected photos coming out of the conflict?

  • 13:51:03

    GOLONI think it's raised questions about them. There are several different news services and there are several different rebel groups in -- working on the side -- anti-government side of the conflict there, and they have their own press officers, as Robert King was mentioning earlier, that take cell phone photos and then release them with information that has to be independently verified.

  • 13:51:29

    GOLONI think the wires -- AP, Reuters, et cetera -- have had the -- well AP has not used Syrian photographers on the ground, but Reuters has -- I think it's incumbent upon the services to make sure that they can get some independent verification on -- we see every day car bombings, barrel bombs that are claimed to come from one side or the other, and so it's complicated to unpack it and try to find out where the truth is.

  • 13:51:59

    NNAMDIGoing to get back to Robert and Moises on that in a second. But first, Susie, in this Syrian conflict, we've seen civilians document the war unfolding around them with cell phones and low-cost digital cameras. How do you think civilians might capture their experience differently than photojournalists or documentarians?

  • 13:52:17

    LINFIELDWell, I think that civilians -- we're not talking about now, I assume, the jihadist militants or...

  • 13:52:23

    NNAMDINo, not the combatants, no.

  • 13:52:24

    LINFIELD...or the soldiers. I think that civilians are often interested in showing the ways that daily life both does persevere and the ways in which it's been destroyed and how, often, both of those things are part of the experience. So you'll see some photos -- and this was also true during the Iraq war -- photos taken by people, you know, Iraqis themselves that were really trying to show, hey, you know, we're still people.

  • 13:52:56

    LINFIELDWe still have a life. We're still going to school. We're still doing this. We're still doing that. And that, in itself, can be a kind of resistance to insist that life -- that civilian life does go on. But, of course, it's not normal life. So you also see all the abnormalities and all the ways that normal life has been deformed.

  • 13:53:17

    NNAMDIRobert, there have been cases where photographers were given permission to document one group's violence against another. We think of Eddie Adam's picture of the execution of a Vietcong prisoner by the South Vietnamese. Do you think photographers risk encouraging violence by agreeing to document it and? Robert, go ahead, please.

  • 13:53:39

    KINGYeah, you know, there was -- some photographer was able to film -- photograph, I think, seven beheadings in a day. No one would release his name. And they ran -- and the media ran with it. So that -- but we're targets anyways, you know, regardless of how far a single individual pushes their camera into these horrific and violent situations. And then, you know, when does -- when does the image maker become the instigator in some of those situations? I'm not, you know, I'm not saying that Eddie Adams instigated anything. It was, you know, from the historical documentation around that photograph, it was just an intuitive instinct to raise his camera.

  • 13:54:31

    NNAMDIHow much pressure was there on you, say, in Syria, when you were with one side or another, to shoot photographs that favored that side's argument?

  • 13:54:43

    KINGWell, I was on the Free Syrian side, mostly within the civilian population. So I wasn't really -- I never went on a mission with any of the Army until like later into, towards the end of the conflict, when it became more controlled. And that was, I guess, last year, in May. And then I wasn't, I just cover the edges now. So I've never really moved with the Free Syrian Army. They were, you know, I was always with something called the media center. And, in the end, the -- there was a conflict and I ended up getting banned from this country.

  • 13:55:28

    NNAMDIThat's what...

  • 13:55:29

    KINGBecause I wouldn't make an editorial adjustment on one of my videos.

  • 13:55:31

    NNAMDIThat's what I remembered happened in your case. Moises, conflict photographers like you and Robert must be accustomed to working in high-risk environments. But at what point is a situation so dangerous that the risks outweigh the reward?

  • 13:55:48

    SAMANWell, I mean, I think that we all face that question at one point or another. And that's where, you know, we as individuals, you know, make decisions of, you know, keep going or maybe retreating or going -- or, you know, not moving. And, you know, I think that's a very personal kind of choice as a photographer and as a journalist.

  • 13:56:13

    SAMANAnd but, you know, it is true that in these conflicts, you know, you face these questions, you know, quite often. And there's really no easy way to -- or no formula to really answer it. Sometimes it's really in the mood that you're in on a certain day. It's, you know, however you're feeling physically, mentally. And that kind of -- that becomes a factor in how far you're willing to go.

  • 13:56:38

    NNAMDIWe're almost out of time, but MaryAnne and Susie, I'd like to get back to the issue that Susie raised earlier. There's been this debate in photography, criticism about whether images of war spur any sort of change in the viewer. Today, with this widely accessible trove of graphic or horrific images available online, do you think that it has changed how the outside world reacts to conflict in any way? First you, MaryAnne.

  • 13:57:00

    GOLONI don't think so, Kojo. I think that war is a -- and conflict is a horrible thing. And I think that what Susie said about the way that people -- the intended audience of some of these atrocity beheading videos, torture videos, et cetera, is not the public at large. I also agree that Americans are very disinterested in this conflict, but disinterested in conflict in general. I think they prefer it in a game form than they do in a reality form. I believe that the photography itself, at least the photography perpetrated by professionals, has helped and does help to tell the story of what's happening on the ground.

  • 13:57:47

    NNAMDIAnd whether or not people are going to be interested enough to get involved or take action, not so much. I'm afraid that's all the time we have. MaryAnne Golon is director of photography for the Washington Post. Susie Linfield is the director of Cultural Reporting and Criticism program at New York University. Her book is called "The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence." Moises Saman is a photographer with Magnum Photos. And Robert King is a photojournalist and videographer. Thank you all for joining us. And thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:58:24

    NNAMDIComing up tomorrow on "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," stopping the Heartbleed. Tech Tuesday explores what was behind a major online security flaw. Plus, evolving best practices for managing your passwords and sensitive information. Then at 1:00, small-time baseball, major league dreams, behind the scenes with the farm teams and triple-A players that feed the majors. "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," Noon till 2:00 tomorrow, on WAMU 88.5 and streaming at kojoshow.org.

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