Finding Samar Hassan

You don’t know her name, but you know her face – she’s the five year old girl Chris Hondros photographer in 2005 after her parents were killed by American troops.

Now, the New York Times has gone back and found her, talking with her about that night and telling us what her life is now like. It’s a heart breaking story.

He says Samar’s 8-year-old brother, Muhammad, talks to himself when he is alone. “When we go out and see a family, they get sad,” he said. Sometimes he finds the children in a room together, crying. “When they remember the accident, it’s like they just died.”

On the National Press Photographers Association’s listserv this morning, President Sean Elliot raised a question:

I’ll be honest, while the story itself is indeed moving I find the move to show the girl Chris Hondros’ photograph from 2005 to be an over-the-top sensationalist move.

To show Chris’ photo in the context of the article is one thing. To tell the girl the reason she’s subject of a story, that her parents died and people want to know how she’s doing is another. To show her the photo … she better have actually asked to see it and been warned that it’s brutal … because otherwise it just doesn’t pass the stink test.

I have to agree with Elliot – the follow-up is good journalism, showing an 11-year-old that photo is pretty brutal.

Mark E. Johnson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment