Is this the worst ever example of press intrusion? Shame on you Dacre & the Daily Mail #mailfail twitter.com/johnprescott/s…The image shows a family in grief at hearing their child had been killed in the Newtown shootings. It's powerful and heart-breaking, but I suggested that it is an photo which a news-gatherer would argue should be seen in the wider debate of US gun control.
— John Prescott (@johnprescott) December 17, 2012
The opposite view was that we knew the horror of Newtown, but that the Mail was just indulging in voyeurism.
Yet we knew, for example, that napalm was being used in Vietnam but this picture is one of the most iconic of all time, earning Associated Press photographer Nick Ut a Pulitzer Prize for its dramatic effect on public opinion of the war.
Prescott would surely consider an image of an naked 8 year old girl in excruciating pain a bit intrusive, yes? Had he been in a position of power at the time, would he have mobilised his huge following to cascade complaints towards newspapers which published it?
And what about this image of an execution during the same war? What could possibly be more intrusive and damaging to a family than the moment of a person's death captured for eternity?
Again, the world was fully aware that people were being killed for nothing more than ideological reasons, but this is currently on the BBC website and described as an "image [which] was to change the public perception of the war".
There has been an ongoing debate within press photography and beyond as to what is correct behaviour and what is not. For example, Malcolm Browne won the World Press Photo of the Year award in 1963 ... but shouldn't he have put down his camera and put the flames out instead?
The picture which has so enraged Prescott was submitted by the well-respected Getty Images, so it just comes down to who published it. The Mail claims that other publications around the world have done so, and I expect they have done. It would be reasonable for an editor to argue that its publication is justified in light of the gun control debate and also the entrenched positions from both Republicans and Democrats.
I suspect that Prescott merely sees a newspaper he dislikes printing a controversial photo, though, and decides it is time for some Punch and Judy politics. I fully expect the same pic published by the Guardian would be described as courageous but, even if not, there is no way he would be frothing at the mouth and mounting a crusade as he is tonight.
It is all the proof we need that politicians should not be allowed anywhere near press regulation - their partisan political views are far too strong for them to ignore and be objective.