NEW YORK, June 14, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — A critical investigation into the depiction of international disaster scenes and victims by Western media has netted the independent iMediaEthics its first Mirror Award for its coverage of media.
The dissection of international media ethics, “Mrs. Bhutto’s Murder Anniversary Part 1: Troubling Double Standard, American photojournalism’s different treatment of foreign victims,” was recognized Wednesday in the category of Best Single Article, Digital Media. Other finalists included stories from Columbia Journalism Review, New York magazine, Nieman Journalism Lab and Poynter.
“We are especially grateful to win an award that flags the importance of the media industry’s holding itself accountable, ” said Rhonda Roland Shearer, the editor and publisher of iMediaEthics.
The S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University confers the Mirror Awards annually to honor excellence in reporting on the media industry. The Mirror is the first for iMediaEthics, a project by the not-for-profit Art Science Research Laboratory, which Shearer co-founded and now directs.
Shearer shared a byline on “Troubling Double Standard” with Malik Ayub Sumbal, who reported from Pakistan. Together they painstakingly retraced the timeline and decision-making that went into the photographic depictions around the chaotic aftermath of the 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Their narrative focused on the treatment of one particular witness and survivor to the shooting and bombing attack that killed 24 people. The Brown Jacket Man, as they called him, saw his grief rendered bare on front pages in North America and Europe amid a hellscape of debris and body parts. Sumbal found the man, Muhammad Yaseen Khan, and interviewed him — the first time Yaseen had been identified by any media outlet.
The story was the first of a four-part series on the press treatment of the assassination aftermath that can be found in the Special Investigation section on the home page of iMediaEthics. Previous investigationsdebunked claims Pulitzer-winning author Jared Diamond made in a New Yorker story he wrote about Papua New Guinea, and probed the Atlantic’s loose treatment of fact in a report William Langeschiesche wrote about Pakistan’s nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, who like Yaseen consented to an interview by Sumbal, another first for a Western news outlet.
Rhonda Roland Shearer: director, Art Science Research Laboratory; editor-in-chief, publisher, iMediaEthics; adjunct lecturer, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Iowa
Backgrounder: Shearer is editor and publisher of iMediaEthics, published by Art Science Research Laboratory, a not-for-profit, co-founded with her late husband, Harvard professor and scientist, Stephen Jay Gould. ASRL’s non-partisan journalism ethics program, www.iMediaEthics.org , promotes students and young journalists working with professional researchers to foster the media’s use of scientific methods and experts before publication. The program also publishes international media ethics news stories and investigations of factual errors and ethical breaches by media outlets. Alexa ranks iMediaEthics among the 15 most visited news media watchdogs on the web.