Newssite shut down over war photos
As major media struggle over how gruesome and realistic war coverage
should be, one alternative newssite has been shut down for posting "inappropriate
Marquardt reports that Vortech stated it would much rather risk a First Amendment lawsuit than a lawsuit from a relative of a soldier shown on the website.
Editor of Yellow Times decries 'censorship' of gruesome images
Posted: March 25, 2003 5:00 p.m. Eastern
By Sherrie Gossett © 2003 WorldNetDaily.com
As major media struggle over how gruesome and realistic war coverage
should be, one alternative newssite has been shut down for posting "inappropriate graphic content."
Late yesterday, Yellow Times was shut down by its hosting company
following a controversy that began when the site ran photos of Iraqi and American war casualties.
The row began Sunday, when a Yellow Times editor used his home computer
to save frames from the Al-Jazeera network footage of captured American POWs.
Fifteen minutes after the Al-Jazeera broadcast, the shots were posted
on the Yellow Times site. The shots of the dead American soldiers chosen by
the site did not show the faces of the soldiers, and thus their identities were
not discernible. The site also included headshots of the live POWs.
The photos were posted before those on the Drudge Report newssite.
Yellow Times editor Erich Marquardt told WND that since the Drudge Report was known as a conservative site, he believed the photos published there, including
that of a grinning Iraqi standing over dead American soldiers, were chosen to
bolster Americans' support for the war.
By contrast, Marquardt says his site was posting photos of casualties
on both sides. The site bears the name Yellow Times to denounce what the
editors cite as prevalent major media "yellow journalism," especially
"sensationalistic" and "biased" coverage of war.
According to the editor, Vortech Hosting,Yellow Times' hosting service,
began receiving complaints about the photos. Vortech then suspended the
Yellow Times account for "inappropriate graphic content"
Vortech sent the following e-mail to YT notifying it of the shut down:
"As 'NO' TV station in the U.S. is allowing any dead U.S. solders or POWs to be
displayed and we will not ether [sic]. We understand free press and all but we
don't want someone's family member to see them on some site. It is disrespectful, tacky & disgusting. No mother, brother, sister, wife or child should see their love one plastered all over the Net wounded or dead."
Marquardt explained to WND his decision to run the photos: "We believe
that in corporate media, especially in the U.S., there is a romanticized view
of war" he said. Because major media don't show graphic images, he argues, people forget what real war looks like and become desensitized.
Continued Marquardt: "When we watch CNN or MSNBC reporters that are
embedded, we hear the reports of firing at night, but the targets we can't see.
Still people are glued to the TV. We want to show what real war looks like."
Marquardt reports that Vortech stated it would much rather risk a First
Amendment lawsuit than a lawsuit from a relative of a soldier shown on
"The company rep was very courteous, but he made it clear he was making
a personal choice," Marquardt said.
YT removed all the photos, which were subsequently posted on a New
Zealand site. YT did keep a link to the site, however, which they were reportedly
remove as well. Marquardt termed the demand to remove a link
link was removed, however, and the YT site went up again.
WND contacted Vortech several times, but company employees declined
referred the newssite to their "acceptable use policy."
After receiving calls from WND and Reuters, Vortech permanently shut
Yellow Times site. Marquardt said the company complained that YT had
"disparaged" them and that since the servers belonged to Vortech, they
right to boot YT off.
The "disparagement" comment referred to an explanation YT previously
about the down time and removal of photos, which had not named the
WND spoke with Abe Peck, professor of journalism at Northwestern
about the Yellow Times controversy. Peck authored "Uncovering the '60s:
and Times of the Underground Press" and has worked as a reporter for
Sun-Times and Chicago Daily News.
"Part of the controversy has a lot to do with the medium of the
Peck. "The genie's out of the bottle now. Anything can get out there,
it does there are all kinds of decisions that need to be made. Within
information can be rocketed around the world, and then it's
Peck added that occasionally Internet hosts can be pressured. Using the
example of sales of Nazi memorabilia on the Web, Peck emphasized that
the specifics of the situations weren't comparable, both were examples
"unparalleled access to information."
"And that will always bring up real questions of taste," he said.
Peck added that broadcasting images of dead soldiers was certainly not
the Vietnam days, we saw pictures of dead soldiers." But he sees
at work now possibly affecting the Yellow Times situation. Peck
was a "general expectation" that U.S. troops would not encounter such
difficulties, at least so soon.
"At the same time, there is a prevailing feeling of support for our
explained. "So there is a certain shock factor, combining with the
medium of the
Internet and the question of taste. More media, especially edgy media,
raises these questions."
Peck compared the controversy to when Stephen Mindich, publisher of the
alternative weekly Boston Phoenix, ran photos of the Daniel Pearl
Mindich decided to run photos of Pearl's severed head hanging from the
his executioner. The on-line edition provided a link to a propaganda
Pearl discussing his Jewish roots and U.S. policies, followed by
images of his dismemberment.
Said Peck, "There was a tremendous furor when chose to run the photos.
people to understand this is an atrocity. He also felt it was an
of anti-Semitism. So despite the Pearl family asking media to not
photos, he decided the news value transcended other considerations."
At the time, the Phoenix said: "This is about the public's right to
know and to
witness for itself the terrible brutality of America's enemies."
Boston publisher weighs in
WorldNetDaily spoke with Mindich about the Yellow Times controversy.
"This was inevitable. ... This debate is what needed to start to
Mindich. He added that he would have waited until the relatives of the
were notified, but he would have run the photos himself.
When it comes to war, "American people need to know what is real," said
"I believe just as with the Pearl case, it must be seen. "
He added that the public is disserved when TV war coverage takes on the
quality of a video game, "an astonishingly well-produced video game."
"I'm impressed with our military's capabilities," he said, "but we're
understanding what really happens in war. The coverage is very
Mindich faults big corporate media for allowing a few major media
make such critical decisions, then obediently following suit.
The editor also argues that such photographic coverage is not
motivated and should not be manipulated to become so.
"Seeing reality could go either way politically," he argues. "People
for the war
could see graphic photos of the POW's and say, 'Let's level Baghdad
the other hand, such coverage could drive anti-war sentiment, resulting
people saying, 'This is why we don't belong here.'"
Ultimately, it's not about serving a political side, says Mindich,
"it's about a
service to the American public."
Mindich called the shut down of Yellow Times "a pretty terrible thing
but added that First Amendment rights and free speech rights pertain to
government not interfering with such, not a private corporation.
"As a private corporation, they do have a right to impose limits, as
those limits do not violate other laws," he said, adding, "I'm not sure
YT has a
legal case to make against them"
Portraying suffering on both sides
After the website shut down, Yellow Times reporter Firas Al-Atraqchi
photos of Iraqi war casualties to WND. One photo, by an Iraqi female
shows a child being taken out of rubble by an older man. Her face is
with blood, and her lower legs have been blown off - only sticks of
protrude. Another photo shows a young child with its brain and skull
The scalp flaps over the dark empty hole.
Al-Atraqchi has now written a column on the shut down of Yellow Times,
not yet available to the public. In it he endeavors to explain his
publish such photos:
"War is horrific, and to portray it otherwise speaks of corporate
writes. "Nevertheless, I was tongue-tied at the MSNBC broadcast of a
one of the U.S. POWs as she shed tears for her son. It gripped me and
and, I wanted to cry with her. I also wanted to cry for the parents of
civilian child, the top part of his skull torn off; an innocent child
a war he did not understand.
"So, here we have it - war affects us all. It affects Americans and
well as the rest of the world."
He continued: "Here, at YellowTimes.org, we did not want these stories
untold. We wanted to bring the horrors of war inflicted on all sides.
killing, we condemn war, and we certainly condemn persecution and
also condemn the intentional absence of truth.
"Someone wants you, the reading public, to only gather one-sided,
Orwellian dispatch. News the way they 'fashion' it. Or as CNN will have
believe, the 'most reliable source for news.'
"I do beg your pardon, no, we weren't shut down - we were censored,
Marquardt tells WND he now has swtiched to a hosting service based in
Francisco. Yellow Times will become available to different areas of the
over the next 24-48 hours, as the name servers propagate through the
http://www.yellowtimes.org/ [if its running today!]
Sherrie Gossett is a Florida-based researcher and writer, formerly with
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and a
contributing reporter to WorldNetDaily.
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