That's a marked contrast from the attitude at many foreign publications, which tend to run more pictures of bloodshed, whether from the accident across town or a war across the world.
Nonetheless, foreign news outlets depict more bloodshed, perhaps in part because their audiences have often had closer contact with war and seem less willing to accept sanitized coverage, one U.S. academic said.
"Americans have a view of war that comes out of World War II, that war is a sort of sacred national cause," said Daniel C. Hallin, a communications professor at UC San Diego, who has conducted extensive reviews of TV war coverage. "We are all supposed to unite around war because these great sacrifices are being made for freedom."
Even aggressive American photographers sometimes become resigned to the notion that the public might not see their work.
"These pictures are going unseen because editors don't print them," Hondros said. "And they don't print them because readers don't want to see them."
But there is some evidence that the public holds a more ambivalent view.
A survey on behalf of Associated Press managing editors questioned 2,461 regular newspaper readers about a series of photos, including the image of the mortally wounded Babbitt.
In the unscientific survey, 59% of the readers said they would have published the Babbitt photo.
"This doesn't tell me we shouldn't be there," reader Rose Barnett of Jacksonville, Fla., said of the photo. "This tells me that this was a brave and kind man to lay his life down for the freedom of others. God rest his soul."
Times researchers Jacquelyn Cenacveira in Los Angeles, Jenny Jarvie in Atlanta, Lynn Marshall in Seattle and Janet Stobart in London contributed to this report.
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American newspapers and newsmagazines have printed few pictures of American casualties. The Times surveyed six newspapers and two newsmagazines for six months for pictures of the dead, wounded and grieving--including funerals, memorials and rehabilitation of the wounded.