“Not Gonna Do It”

Graphic photo begins to be cool to share. Why?

 

There's a fine line between using images for news and self-promotion, between documenting an event or making an event into an advertisement. Recently a Associated Press photo is making it's way slowly across Facebook as one of those motivational posters. The image below is a sarcastic delivery about career firefighters and public misconception. I suppose it could also be about volunteer firefighters as well when considering LOSAP monies or private donations to the fire department. That's really neither here nor there.

 

The story behind the photos comes from a fire in Evansville, Indiana. You may have seen the images in their proper context below,

 

In "Misguided Anger" I wrote about how strange it was to see the comments from many in the fire service who objected to these photos being in the news. My position on it, unchanged, is that the photographs document the occurrence of an event and as news should be viewed. I also stated that as news the photos can surely be used to support a position that advances fire safety among the public. The Evansville fire story noted that there were no working smoke detectors.

Some in the fire service see no objection to use the photo of a naked, unconscious, soot stained toddler to remind others that they are firefighters. It would be an entirely different matter if the photo was used in a well composed presentation on fire prevention and fire safety to local politicians, civic groups and others. Unfortunately, unless the mayor, city council and PTA have 'friended' you on Facebook, that photo isn't reaching their eyes. Besides, chances are most of your friends are in the fire service anyway, so you're preaching to the choir in a sense. And, if you do happen to have the Governor or Alderman as your online pals, then what is really being said with the whole 'greedy' message?

If you are going to promote the fire service, do it in a way that even John Q. Public's child can understand and in way that doesn't cheapen the story behind a tragic incident.

Bill Carey is the daily news and blog manager for Elsevier Public Safety (FireRescue Magazine/Firefighter Nation, JEMS and LawOfficer sites.) Bill also manages the FireEMSBlogs.com network and is a former volunteer lieutenant with the Hyattsville Volunteer Fire Department in Prince George's County, Maryland.

We encourage and support constructive dialogue and debate. View our comment policy.



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5 Comments

  • Matt "Dal90" Kivela says:

    Nice Commentary Bill.

    Coming across snarky and bitter usually isn't a successful way to win friends and influence people.

  • Nice post Bill. There isn’t much that appalles me but when I first saw that poster I certainly was. There are far better ways to further our agendas than using something like that. As a news piece, a public education tool, sure. Not to promote our pension and benefit fights.

    Chris

  • Chris Minick says:

    I understand the message, but the presentation in this case is a total failure.  Immature and unprofessional.

  • Chris Wagener says:

    Bill,
    I whole heartedly agree with your statements!  I am an Evansville Firefighter, and was onscene at the above fire.  I was in another picture, running that girl to the ambulance, and have been sickened by some of the uses of these pictures.  My picture was used in a political campaign ad in northern Indiana, without even asking if I minded.  What people have to remember that these picutres are powerful reminders.  A reminder to this family, that their daughter passed away that day.  To those two little girls, that they will grow up without their mother.  And to us, as firefighters.  I myself will never forget that day.  I would caution the use of photos like this one for political purposes.  You aren't doing anyone involved any favors!

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