I’ve been itching to see the Weegee exhibit, Murder is My Business, at the International Center of Photography. Weegee, aka Arthur Fellig, made his mark shooting lurid photos that often showed in graphic glory the results of violence.
I doubt that the tabloid editors who published his pictures ever felt the need to justify it later. They just wanted to sell newspapers — and they’d probably laugh if they heard that today we call Weegee’s work art.
Meanwhile, in 2012, the Times Union this week is defending the posting of a video on its website that shows a murder. Many readers were outraged, and in response editor Rex Smith wrote:
“We weigh the first imperative of our ethics code — to seek the truth and report it fully — against the sometimes competing notion that we must minimize the harm that reporting may inevitably cause some people.”
Newspapers may have evolved but the people who crave accounts and pictures of murder and mayhem have not. They seek out the thrill of seeing something sensational. And that’s just human nature.