Kress reported that the German Press Council has reprimanded Germany's best selling tabloid newspaper, Bild and its website Bild.de for publishing what it has described to be "unsuitable and sensationalist content surrounding the death of Michael Jackson."
The newspaper, with its motto "independent and unpartisan," ran a front page showing Jackson lying on a stretcher and attached to breathing apparatus. According to the Press Council, the photograph, coupled with the headline "losing his fight for life," pertained to present the reader an image of a dying man, and amounts therefore, to a breach of human rights.
The website went one step further by publishing a computer generated image of Michael Jackson's body without hair - which was not only highly disturbing but also fictitious and a further breach of human rights.
Over the last few months the Press Council has been forced to publicly reprimand the publication and its website no less than six times. Bild.de recently ran a controversial photo series showing a mother shooting her son before turning the gun on herself. The publication took no measures to conceal their identities, nor did it include alongside it an article of any length or worth, making the publication of the photo series entirely "sensational and only serving to shock" The Press Council said.
Though Bild's recent actions do serve to re-open the recent debate concerning the ethics of journalism - particularly in reference to the Associated Press' questionable circulation of a photograph showing a fatally injured U.S. marine's last moments of life earlier this month, it seems very difficult to find arguments to support their case.
Whatever the reason behind Bild's decision to publish these photos, the newspaper cannot blame it on an attempt to attract readers in a time of flagging sales. Not only is the German tabloid one of the only publications to remain relatively unscathed by the current economic climate, it is currently the best-selling newspaper in Europe and has the sixth-largest circulation worldwide.