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When the Media Goes too Far

Some days when I read news reports about our servicemembers downrange all I can think is: “Really? Was that really necessary??”

Today was one of those days.

One of my myriad of jobs at Military.com is posting news over the weekend. I pick stories for the homepage based on what events are impacting our readers (you!) and what stories I think you will find interesting and informative. Sometimes it is an easy job. Sometimes it is not.

A few minutes ago I had the task of updating the site with this horrible news, as well as choosing a photo to go along with it. As I scrolled through the pictures available for us to use I came across something that made me sick:

Shot after shot of Soldiers hauling body bags from the wreckage.

Nothing has been reported about where these Soldiers were from or who their families are. The attack happened Saturday Afghanistan time, no more than 18 hours ago. There is no way all the families have been notified.

As I looked at those pictures on my computer screen I couldn’t help but put myself in the shoes of any given family member with a Soldier in Kabul -- the same way any spouse would. There is likely a communication blackout right now from the involved unit – no info in, no info out. And while the news of the attack develops there is nothing for those families to do but brace for a knock on the door, wait for the phone call of relief and "I'm OK,"  and stare at those photos while wondering “is that my spouse?”

As a member of the media I am slow to criticize other reporters and news organizations for their decisions. But some things are easy to identify as going too far.

I did not, of course, use one of the photos of the body bags, instead picking something much more ambiguous. I cannot ignore the news that so many servicemembers have been killed at once, particularly when a US official is confirming it. But I can choose to not show photos that cross the line.

I am an Army spouse – it is a role that informs all of my actions, whether professional or personal. I hope and pray that it makes me a better person.

To the families of those killed or injured today in this attack or the separate shooting incident elsewhere in Afghanistan – you are in our thoughts and prayers.

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