PHOTO BY STEFAN ZAKLIN / EPA
An American soldier lies dead just moments after being shot by an insurgent during the battle of Fallujah, the largest combat operation of the Iraq War.
This photo--taken as US casualties in Iraq were skyrocketing--is accurate and has never been challenged in any way. Despite being distributed to every major magazine and newspaper in the US, not a single one published it at this time. It was, however, widely published throughout Europe, including on the front page of a German newspaper. This publication led to the photographer being ejected by the US military from his coverage of the battle. His embed was ended and he was personally threatened.
American photo editors’ sanitized coverage of the Iraq war has been widely documented. Nearly 5,000 Americans were killed in the war, yet newspapers and magazines in this country almost never published pictures of dead or wounded Americans. Fear of upsetting readers, losing access to embed opportunities, and worry at angering Pentagon sources are the three commonly cited reasons by editors for the self-censorship of the American press during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
(This photo was published long after the battle of Fallujah by the Village Voice and Newsweek with articles about censoship.)
We gratefully acknowledge the loan of this photograph by Mr. Zaklin and the European Press Agency.
"A review of six prominent U.S. newspapers and the nation's two most popular newsmagazines during a recent six-month period found almost no pictures from the war zone of Americans killed in action. During that time, 559 Americans and Western allies died. The same publications ran 44 photos from Iraq to represent the thousands of Westerners wounded during that same time."
- The Los Angeles Times, "Unseen Pictures, Untold Stories"
- Read The Guardian's article, "Iraq's Unseen Violence"
- Read The Village Voice's 2005 piece, "Not a Pretty Picture"
Image copyright Stefan Zaklin / EPA