Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » What if a picture makes you cry?


We discussed for about 45 minutes during our Thursday news meeting about how to display a powerful photograph of a woman caring for her aging mother.

The image in question, which you can see by clicking here, instantly told the heart-breaking story. Those in favor of using the photograph on the front page said the view of the daughter holding the parent like a baby brought you into the story and told the truth of the situation. (For more images and the voice of the daughter I encourage you to click on photojournalist Sarah Lim's slide show attached to the story.)

Quite a few argued for displaying on the front page the second image attached to the story online. That photo shows the daughter at her mother's bedside. Those in favor of this one said it showed the bond between the two women and was less invasive than the first picture, which showed the mother in such a vulnerable state.

Those in the first camp, though, argued this safer picture could have been about someone visiting an elderly person in the hospital. It doesn't really show the main message of caring for a parent. Of course, not every image can or should be expected to tell the entire story. A photo is only one snapshot of the truth.

At their best, though, photographs evoke emotion. They force you to think or laugh or cry. One reader called Friday to complain about the photo. She said the photo made her and a friend, who were both going through a similar situation, cry. In her opinion, "the paper was going to the dogs." The reporter on the story also received an e-mail from a reader saying the picture negated all of the good the article did.

What are your thoughts about when a news photo makes you cry?