Blood in the Western Press

January 19, 2008 § Leave a comment

Many English-language news sources, like the Guardian, the Associated Press, and the Washington Post released photos of the more “bloody” rituals of Ashoura. The Arabic press published photos more representative of mainstream rituals (ie sans blood), but the Western press opted to focus on the few individuals who chose to shed blood. (See earlier post for a quick look at Ashoura rituals.) I don’t seek to make a judgment on any type of Ashoura ritual — blood or no blood — I only mention the contrast in coverage because the photos used by the English-language news are zoomed in on one man bleeding, and once you look closely at the rest of the shot, you can see that in this mass of people, there is only one man participating.

Obviously, there is a selection process which leads to the use of these photos. In the case of the Guardian, it’s probably just a web editor choosing the most striking photo without realization that many Shi’is frown upon the process of blood shedding. On the other hand, I question why Western news outlets are so willing to use these bloody shots in this context, but it is very rare to see images of dead Iraqis and Palestinians.

To their credit, the NY Times (to the best of my knowledge) did not publish photos of any bloody rituals online.


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