Saturday, 18 February 2017

Aperture | The Turkish assassin World Press Photo controversy

© AP Photo/ Burhan Ozbilici
Saturday, February 18, 2017 - The winners of the 60th World Press Photo Contest have just been announced. This year, the competition drew entries from around the world: 5,034 photographers from 125 countries submitted 80,408 images. The jury gave prizes in eight categories to 45 photographers from 25 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Iran, Italy, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Syria, New Zealand, Turkey, UK, and USA. The overall winner is Burhan Özbilici, a staff photographer for The Associated Press. Özbilici’s picture – which also won first prize in the Spot News Stories category – shows how Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, a 22-year-old off-duty police officer, assassinated the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov at an art exhibition in Ankara, Turkey, on 19 December 2016.

The decision of the World Press Photo Jury to award their main prize to an image of murder and terror has triggered considerable controversy all over the world; but even inside the Jury. The jury chairman Stuart Franklin to write an article for the Guardian outlining his objections. Franklin acknowledges the incredible bravery of the photographer who stood his ground and kept taking pictures throughout the incident, and the Jury's difficult decision was inevitable due to the powerful and explosive image they had to face in the contest. There is no doubt the photograph is the just winner of the competition. The questions  aroused are in an ethical context: how much truth we wish a photographic image to convey? An what if this truth of the image is disputed or even overruled by either a majority or a minority, in this case, the Russian people respectively, who consider the shooting a profound act of terrorism? The dialogue goes far on.



The World Press Photo Foundation is a major force in developing and promoting the work of visual journalists, with a range of activities and initiatives that span the globe, formed in 1955, when a group of Dutch photographers organized a contest to expose their work to international colleagues. That annual contest has since grown into one of the most prestigious awards in photojournalism and multimedia storytelling, and the exhibition it produces is seen by four million people worldwide each year.

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