Death in Wartime: Photographs and the “Other War” in Afghanistan

By Barbie Zelizer

A paper by Barbie Zelizer, spring 2004 fellow, addresses the formulaic dependence of the news media on images of people facing impending death. Considering one example of this depiction – U.S. journalism’s photographic coverage of the killing of the Taliban by the Northern Alliance during the war on Afghanistan – the paper traces its strategic appearance and recycling across the U.S. news media and shows how the beatings and deaths of the Taliban were depicted in ways that fell short of journalism’s proclaimed objective of fully documenting the events of the war. This paper argues that in so doing, U.S. journalism failed to raise certain questions about the nature of the alliance between the United States and its allies on Afghanistan’s northern front.

Download the paper (PDF).