AP CEO Tom Curley addressed a conference on war and journalism at the University of Kentucky, “Covering Conflicts in a Modern World.” Curley focused on allowing adequate battlefield access for journalists, both for writers and photojournalists.
As an example of war reporting, Curley showed conference-goers slides of images captured in Afghanistan by AP photographer Julie Jacobson. The images showed the last moments in the life of Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard. Said Curley:
Battlefield images like the one Julie captured are rare and, as you might imagine, their distribution not taken lightly. For more than two weeks AP debated whether to release the image of the mortally wounded soldier. Once we decided that the value of informing the public overrode other concerns, we gave the Pentagon advance notice and personally visited Bernard’s family to let them know.
We did not release the image as a single image, but put it into context with the other photos you just saw. We also ran a package of stories and an extensive explanation of the reasons behind our decision to move the photos. In Julie’s journal, which we also released, she wrote:
“To ignore a moment like that simply would have been wrong. I was recording his impending death, just as I had recorded his life moments before, walking the point in the bazaar. Death is a part of life and most certainly a part of war. Isn’t that why we’re here? To document for now and for history the events of war?”
Curley gave other examples of stellar reporting and images by AP staff and made mention of the constant danger and obstacles his reporters face on and off the battlefield when it comes to covering war, including the “lack of clear battle lines.”
Curley ended his speech by saying that this, covering the current fighting overseas, is something the AP spends more money on than any other project because, he believes, it is the “most important thing” they do.
For a full transcript of Curley’s speech, click here.