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The Dichotomy Of Photojournalism In The Afghanistan War

2094 words - 8 pages

Journalism is considered by many to essential in maintaining a democracy and the trust of the people within it. The public relies on journalism and media, to close the distance between current events and the public to facilitate immediate attention. The use of photojournalism in times of war is depended on, in order to create a type of vicarious experience for the reade;, so they in some way can experience the conflict themselves without physically being there. However, I have come to notice an issue within the way media is proposed. It is true that a photograph can speak a thousand words, but it can leave many words unspoken. It creates an essential question: What is not being show and what are we unable to see? Does this information present the event in its entirety? After reading the Atlantic’s photo-essay, titled: “In Focus: Afghanistan October 2011,” The complexity of portraying war in photojournalism began to present itself. A gap exists; a missing perspective within the narrative of photojournalism and this gap has the ability to manipulate the very public its meant to inform.
In the Atlantic’s photo-essay, the reader is shown a variety of images that attempt to encapsulate the current state of conflict in Afghanistan in October 2011. The article is comprised of photography instead of writing making of the majority of the content. The reader is presented a visual experience of the conflict in Afghanistan. Accompanying the images are short captions, which sit below the photographs and provide a context for the visual presentation that is provided. Many of the images depict scenes of the local population in and around Kabul, the countries capital, involved in everyday activities. An image of women protesting the occupation of American forces (Taylor, 2011; Figure 6), some are dressed in typical custom and fully covered, while others depict a more “western” approach. There is an image of locals attending rock concerts (Figure 17), as if the conflict no longer existed. Other images illustrate the casualties of war, seen in an image of the investigation of a suicide bombing (Figure 25) and the President greeting a returning veteran and medal of honor recipient who was injured in combat (Figure 41). These images give an overall view of the –then– current state of Afghanistan. However, there is something troubling in what may be missing from the photographs, something that may not be noticed by a trusting reader. Around the same time the Atlantic article was written, I was also in Afghanistan. At that time I was in the United States Marine Corps, serving as an Infantryman, and deployed to southern Helmand province in 2010-2011. My unique military experience in Afghanistan allowed me to identify a gap left by the Atlantic in their article, specifically in their use of imagery to depict the current state of conflict in Afghanistan.
My experiences lead to a different impression of the war in Afghanistan than those expressed in the Atlantic’s...

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