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Disturbing Images, Who’s at Fault?

by on November 18, 2014

Reading about the photo essay that Sara Lewkowicz covered was very shocking and an eye opener. Reading what she had to say about the topic and her experiences with Shane, Maggie and her two young children was powerful. Seeing those vivid and real photographs of the incident scared me, but also showed a little piece of what it is like for those individuals who have experienced and are still experiencing domestic violence.

Of course, this photo essay about domestic violence and assault brought up many ethical and controversial issues.

At first, Lewkowicz thought her story was capturing a family that consisted of a young mother, her two children and her boyfriend who is an ex-convict, newly released from jail. Stemming from this, her story would be about the struggles of integrating an ex-convict back into the social community and the stigmatization of being an ex-convict. However, the story changed once Lewkowicz witnessed a traumatic event between Maggie and Shane, once their verbal fight changed into a physical fight where Shane began throwing her into chairs, walls and choking her in front of Maggie’s 2 year old daughter.

Lewkowicz continued to photograph this situation, rather physically intervene in the violent assault.

When Lewkowicz’s 39 pictures were published in Time, the question whether or not she should have intervened or continued to take pictures was a controversy. Some people thought she should have done something more than call the police and tried to stop it. Others thought her being a journalist provided her with the automatic job to continue her work and hope that these images would help other domestic violent cases. Because of all these criticism, Lewkowics commented saying she understood where many people were coming from but defended her actions. She called the police herself, she knew her 5’2’’ height and frame couldn’t help out physically with the situation, 2 other people were in the house that were too scared to intervene, and if she tried to hit Shane with her camera or anything else she too could have been charged with assault.

What do you guys think she should have done? Was she in the right? Should she have tried to intervene? Would it have helped the situation? What limits do you journalist have with sources and their interactions? Would it have been a different scenario if Lewkowicz were a male?

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