The ethics of graphic images used in media

Terry Moore

School of Communication and Culture associate professor David Black was interviewed on CFAX radio about the image of a drowned Syrian refugee child that was published by the Globe and Mail and shared widely across other media outlets and social media.

Black explains that partly we’re reluctant to look at images that cause us emotional pain.

“We’re also reluctant to consider the underlying realities that generate these horrific moments,” says Black. “If media share images for raw shock value, the lives of those who have suffered or died are treated pornographically, however, if there is an interpretive context for the use of images that truly provide people with a point of access to a complex and distant story then sharing them is justifiable.”

Black adds that journalism is a part of our lives to bring us difficult true events.

Listen to the full interview here starting at 21:14 in the podcast.


Black was also interviewed by CTV Vancouver Island on the same topic and explained that a photo can only create change if it comes with context.

Watch the full story here starting at 3:30 in the newscast.