Has the New York Times Sensationalized Ebola and Exploited Images of Children?

On October 1, 2014, the New York Times published "A Hospital From Hell, in a City Swamped by Ebola" by Adam Nossiter with photographs by Samuel Aranda. The photographs of children in Makeni, Sierra Leone suffering from Ebola set off a debate on Twitter on the ethics of representation and consent.


  1. The conversation about the photographs started simply with Josh Busby, an Associate Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin, asking political scientist at Colby College and Washington Post contributor Laura Seay what she thought of the article.
  2. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan (@Sulliview) did not respond, but Lydia Polgreen, New York Times Deputy International Editor and former correspondent in Africa & South Asia, suggested the New York Times would run photographs of American children.
  3. This sparked the debate.
  4. Others began voicing support for Seay.
  5. Seay reached out to Howard French, an associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, for perspective. French noted that a history of representation of Africans in humanitarian photography was crucial to understanding these questions.