Where do you draw the line?

Where do you draw the line?

A photo in this morning’s Times (page A20) made me uneasy – both as a reader and a journalist.

The headline reads “A Councilman’s Aide Extends a Lifeline All the Way to Haiti.” The story’s illustrated with two photos. In the top photo, a man is sitting in a chair, In the bottom one, he’s collapsed and someone is trying to give him a drink of water. The caption reads: “Alex Alexis came to the office of Councilman Mathieu Eugene … for help getting a passport so he could go to Haiti to find his family. While in the office, Mr. Alexis collapsed after learning that his wife and three children were dead.”

Was the second photo necessary? Would not the caption have told the story without it? Was it insensitive, even cruel, to show this man undone by grief?

And yet – it does tell the story. It provides a wrenching insight into this tragedy, personalizing it.

Meanwhile, the papers and television and the Internet are full of images of death and grief.

But this one, in which we see one man’s, one family’s, life changed in an instant, may have crossed a line. His grief is his grief – I’m not sure it is right to make it public.

Readers, what do you think?