Opinion Dead bodies for sale

Article 5 section 1 of the code and ethics of the Ghana Journalist Association demands that “journalists should respect the right of the individual, the privacy and human dignity.” However, the media has on a number of occasions violated this by publishing pictures of dead bodies.

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A scene from a funeral play

A scene from a funeral

(www.news.cn)
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There are various means of disseminating information to the public. And even before thinking of how to deliver a message, a number of things are considered - some of which can lead to certain details, if not the whole information withheld. These include respect, privacy and security.

It is therefore not surprising that article 5 section 1 of the code and ethics of the Ghana Journalist Association demands that “journalists should respect the right of the individual, the privacy and human dignity.”

Why then are there publications and circulations of pictures of lifeless bodies? Interestingly, media houses of high reputation perpetrate such unprofessional breach.

One is not spared gory pictures of dead accident victims on front pages of newspapers, television networks, websites and social media. The absurdity has continued for long for one to wonder whether it is to attract buyers/viewers or to send a message that, “we were there to cover”.

What is more pathetic is when pictures of the corpse and other scenes from the funeral are compiled by individuals into calendar for sale.

Burial service play

Burial service

(AFP)
 

Instances

A picture of the corpse of Paul Victor Obeng was posted on Facebook when the former Chairman of the National Development Planning Committee was laid in state. Daily Guide had on its front page a story on his death which showed his remains being stretchered off to the morgue.

Similarly, dead victims of the June 3 inferno and flood disaster were shown on UTV during prime time. It would be recalled that Kwame Sefa Kayi, host of Peace FM’s Kokrokoo publicly criticised the network for the act.

Recently, the lifeless body of veteran comedian, Bob Okala was published together with the story of his death on a website. It was shocking to have read that brytfmonline.com, one of the online news platforms which carried the story, is a subsidiary company of Joy Industries Limited, the company that organised the concert in Koforidua which Bob Okala performed at before he passed on.

The list is endless. But must such news items come with such pictures and footages?

Women at a funeral play

Women at a funeral

(Lisa Meier)

 

Unfortunately, technology has not helped in this regard as pictures uploaded on social media spread faster than a gas explosion.

What is worrying is, the act has become part of our daily social media life to the extent that people take pictures of their relatives laid in state and upload on their Facebook timelines to attract sympathy. Due to ignorance, some people instead of condemning such uploads, ‘like’ them while others send condolences.

Implications

Perhaps there is little or no education regarding the repercussions of such a distasteful act. A family can take legal actions against anyone who disgraces it by publishing such pictures. Truly, it is a gross insensitivity, disrespect and violation of privacy.

The practise has smacked of the media as not circumspect when it comes to matters of the dead. How can the media educate the public on the need not to upload pictures of dead bodies when it is a culprit?

The seemingly breakdown of discipline among some journalists in the discharge of their duties is alarming and ought to be condemned. You may warn viewers of graphics which accompany the news but certainly not a dead body.

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