Abu Ghraib: the tooth decay factor

Abu Ghraib: the tooth decay factor.
Memo to the press regarding the abuse/humiliation story:

Put the photos away.

Human nature is such that people will simply ignore everything you’re saying, if you continue to show those (or new) pictures as part of advancing the story. The toothpaste industry learned this a long time ago, and it’s why you never see actual tooth decay photos being used to sell toothpaste. Think about it. Doesn’t it seem logical that people would rush to buy toothpaste upon seeing rotted teeth? Well, they don’t. They just turn away. The toothpaste people know this, and that’s why smiling faces are used instead.

This is often a factor in ongoing stories with shocking visual imagery. In our rush to outdo our competition — or even simply to advance a story — we run the risk of shooting ourselves in the foot with the audiences we’re trying to serve.

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