There is one thing that is promised in this life: death. But there should be one thing that is promised when we leave our bodies behind on this earth, and that is respect for the dead body.
A mere eleven days ago, a woman who had one of the most angelic voices the music industry has ever heard, departed and left the body that once produced melodic sounds behind. And the media circus ensued.
Multiple publications ran minute-to-minute updates on all the happenings related to Whitney’s death, funeral and burial, but one publication in particular crossed the line between ethical journalism and insensitive, immoral reporting.
Funeral director Caroline Wigham said: “The viewing was done in privacy. It was between a mother, a daughter, two brothers and a family.” Which leads us to wonder to what extent this publication went to obtain a photo of Whitney’s body.
This same publication also ran a photo of Michael Jackson on his deathbed when Michael’s doctor was on trial for his death.
The question that is normally asked in editorial meetings is “What can we do to attract readers?” and the answer should never be to splash a dead body on the front page.
Do people want to see a photo of a body in a casket? I am sure many will answer no. But whether or not people would look at a celebrity in their casket if it was presented is a question that takes on an alternate response.
Humans are inquisitive by nature, so yes, if presented with the opportunity they will look out of curiosity. But our job as the media is not to exploit sacred moments of the dead and force-feed it to consumers on the front page.
There is always a moral line in place that begs the question of “What type of publication do you want to be?” I believe that the Enquirer took the low road and decided to be the publication that aims for shock value, and not moral value.
There are very, very, very few instances under which showing the photos of deceased are acceptable, and those instances are typically under circumstances that involve war.
The Houston family was gracious enough to allow millions of viewers into their private homecoming for their daughter via live stream. Mourners were allowed to stand in front of the cemetery on the day of the burial. Fans were allowed to hold memorials in the surrounding blocks during Whitney’s wake.
The Houston family understood that Whitney had fans who wanted to pay their respects and they permitted the proper accommodations that they felt did not overstep the boundaries of their privacy.
Was that not enough? Is this how they are repaid?
Whitney Houston dedicated the last 30 years of her life to entertaining the public and she has since been freed from this earth, as well as freed of her expectations to entertain. So for the sake of morality, let Whitney’s body rest in absolute peace.