By John Pantoya
It seemed as ordinary of a Sunday night as any, but after I received a text message that broke the news of Osama bin Laden‘s death it became clear that this day would never be forgotten, nor would it be visually remembered.
My initial reaction was excitement. Disbelief then set in as I could not yet grasp what I had been told. I had to have visual proof, so I grabbed the remote and turned the channel to CNN. Sure enough, there were the headlines proclaiming his death.
I couldn’t wait to hear more about it. I had to know all of the details of this historic news. After hearing President Obama’s speech confirming his death, I still wanted more information, but nothing more ever came about.
Many other details were revealed in the aftermath, like how it was a team of Navy SEALs who successfully infiltrated bin Laden’s compound, but I couldn’t help but find the lack of physical evidence as astounding.
Many people are content with words, but I’ve been taught to be a credible journalist. To be one you must provide as much factual evidence and proof as possible, and I believe more is needed in this case
There were photos of bin Laden available after he was shot, but Obama decided it was best for the country not to release them, according to news reports. I don’t argue the fact that the pictures are gruesome, but I think that providing visual proof is the right thing to do.
To put that into contrast, the images of the 9/11 terrorist attacks are forever stored in the memories of all Americans. What images will come to mind when thinking of bin Laden’s death? Will it be the fake Photoshop images that made their way online? Will it be the image of a frail bin Laden watching himself on TV?
Most likely no images will come to mind because there are no real images available for us to see.
There were not even pictures of the funeral either. A couple shots of his cloaked body before his burial at sea would’ve done fine, but we couldn’t even get that.
His death was such a monumental moment for the U.S. that it’s hard to think that there is nothing to visually recall from it.
As a journalist, I just can’t get my head around the fact that there was no photographic evidence in this instance. I don’t dispute the fact that bin Laden is dead. I think the force in taking his life was warranted, and that a great justice was done for those affected by 9/11.
It’s never a good idea to leave the validity of any story up for debate, and I don’t see why the rules seemingly changed with this event.