Feds curb news photos of Katrina’s death toll

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, coming under an unprecedented barrage of criticism for its widespread failures in response to Hurricane Katrina’s deadly strike and aftermath, on 7 September 2005 barred news photographers from its rescue efforts and requested that no photos be made of the dead throughout the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media,” a FEMA spokeswoman told Reuters via e-mail, according to the news service.

The federal agency further explained that space was needed on the rescue boats and that “the recovery of the victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect.”

The request, not unlike the Pentagon’s earlier policy of banning the press from photographing coffins of American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, immediately drew protest from media experts.

This is about managing images and not public taste or human dignity,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, according to Reuters.