This photo of David Hume Kennerly, taken in Vietnam, makes a basic yet essential point about media integrity and the reportage from Ukraine.
By Michael Shaw
Ordinarily, this 1971 photo of David Hume Kennerly serves a biographical purpose. It acknowledges the dedication and effort behind his body of Pulitzer Prize-winning work during the Vietnam War.
But these are not ordinary times in either the world or the media sphere, as Kennerly himself drives home in a recent NY Times Opinion essay about the graphic photos we are seeing from Ukraine. One reason we must freely see those atrocity images, Kennerly argues, is because of Russia’s systematic disinformation campaign. At the same time Putin’s troops kill and, in certain cases, actually hunt photojournalists, Russia is also pressing the case that the horrific photos of death and destruction from Bucha and so many Ukrainian towns and villages are simple “fake news.”
Which brings us back to the dramatic Vietnam photo and a new twist on the image half a century later. Because, as much as it captures the young Kennerly in action, it more basically states he was there.