“Can you show the dead body?”

dead body please 01

It is rare for me that I go to an event just to attend it not on assignment. But on Sunday I was invited only to attend the launch of a mobile phone. But just after some time I had reached, I got a sms from my editor that said ‘huge fire near nardevi, 2 casualties’.

The photographer instinct on such situation is leave everything and rush to the place. I did the same. I asked a fellow photographer to drop me. We followed narrow alleys as it started to drizzle. We reached the accident place following narrow roads as showed by the locals.

As soon as I got off the bike, I took out my camera and rushed towards firefighter trucks shouting “press” to the police. The fire had already been extinguished. The first thing I saw were the dead bodies laying on the ground between two firefighter trucks. They were wrapped in bed sheets.

At these times, you take shots of first thing you see. I started taking pictures of those dead bodies. It wasn’t the first time I was taking photos of dead bodies. There have been situations where I was in the middle of 19 dead bodies shooting. But it is always pain to shoot dead people.  But at these times I am always aware that these photos should not be disturbing to the viewers.

As I had started shooting I heard a voice saying “Dai laash dekhaidinu ta” (Show the dead body clearly). The police personnel removed the bed sheet that had covered the bodies for the ‘clear’ shot as requested by the cameraman. Television camera-persons started shooting the dead bodies. And, I took the above shot.

In the past few years there has been fierce competition among media in breaking news and reporting exclusives. But sometimes I feel that with that competition, television channels specially, seem to forget ethics and self censorship. There were plane crashes in the past in Kathmandu. The viewer got to see the dead bodies with watermark saying ‘exclusive’. That made most of the viewers disturbed for a long time.

dead body please 02

Whenever such disturbing images or videos are broadcast, first, the media has to be aware of what they broadcast or publish. Second, viewer discretion warning has to be given.

In the incident at Nardevi, three people died. I got the ‘clear’ view of the burnt bodies. But I didn’t file any pictures that I thought could be disturbing to the viewers. I think pain of such devastation can still be delivered to the viewer through images and videos without any disturbing content. All you need is some sense of ethics, self censorship, commonsense and a lot of respect.

dead body please 03

“Can you show the dead body?”

6 thoughts on ““Can you show the dead body?”

  1. bikas rauniar says:

    agree fully with you bijaya, there is a urgent need of visual editors to edit tv footage before it is telecasted, the way still photos are edited..

  2. shakti silwal says:

    its so much humiliating to know that our media friends show the faces of the deceased in the name of TRP. They should be ashamed to show such things how would they feel if a camera man would have pictured the face of their people. Nice insight i really loved it

  3. KT2020 says:

    am interested that your concern is for the readers and not the family and friends of the deceased…something seems mixed up? the ethics and self-regulation of media should be based on that surely, since there will always be people who seeks sensational images (readers) whereas for dead body, murder or rape victim etc etc surely the responsibility is to the victim and their family?

    1. Hi, thank you for your concern. If you read the last line, i have said a lot of respect, that respect is for the deceased and people related. Here problem is some cameraman just treat them as ‘subject’ not as human. May be i couldn’t deliver it better in words. But here respect means not only to the family but also to the dead people.

      I have written about it with little more added example in today’s nagarik daily. you might be more clear on that.

      see the link below, page 19.

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