Following are two salient paragraphs of Sarah Palin’s statement on Facebook regarding AP’s publication of Lance Corporal Joshua ‘Bernie’ Bernard’s photo against his grieving family’s wishes. Lance Corporal Bernard was killed in combat. The complete transcript is on Governor Palin’s Facebook page and can be accessed by clicking the link in the reference list or if on the main US for Palin blog, clicking the FeedBurner feed.
Shame on the AP for purposely adding to the grieving family’s pain. Ignoring the family’s wishes by publishing a sacred image of their loved one proved a despicable and heartless act by the AP. The family said they didn’t want the photo published. AP, you did it anyway, and you know it was an evil thing to do (Palin, 2009, Â¶3).
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bernard family. Words can not adequately express our sorrow and appreciation for your sacrifice. We will never forget your Marine or his fallen comrades (Palin, 2009, Â¶4).
Governor Palin has a journalism degree and prior to her political career was a sportscaster. Having been part of the media herself, Governor Palin is familiar with the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.
A major subsection of the Code is to “Minimize Harm.” Journalists are bound to: “Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by news coverage,” “[b]e sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief,” (emphasis added) and “[r]ecognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.” (SPJ, 2009, p. 1).
The Associated Press in publishing this photo displayed wanton and reckless disregard for the principle of minimizing harm. Governor Palin’s assessment of their behavior is correct. We note that the Associated Press has on numerous occasions published misleading and false information pertaining to Sarah Palin both in her prior role as Governor, and in her current role as a private citizen who happens to be a public figure.
Code of Ethics. (2009). Society of Professional Journalists. Retrieved September 7, 2009 from: http://www.spj.org/pdf/ethicscode.pdf
Palin, S.L.H. (2009, September 6). “Shame on the Associated Press for Ignoring the Wishes of a Grieving Family” Facebook, Sarah Palin. Retrieved September 7, 2009 from: http://www.facebook.com/sarahpalin?v=app_2347471856&viewas=1574531555