By Steve Outing
That’s a no-brainer, as far as I’m concerned. The answer is yes, when you’re talking about online. If you’re thinking of publishing gruesome photos on the font page of your newspaper, or video of the actual hanging on a news broadcast, then (especially in the USA, where we’re still puritanical about such things), don’t do it unless you’re prepared for a public backlash from more sensitive readers and viewers. But there’s no logical reason that I can see not to make it available online — where you can precede it with graphic warnings about what an online visitor will see if he/she clicks that link.
There are a few reasons for this:
- This is big news, obviously, and it should be covered fully — and that includes offering images that may offend some.
- The photos and videos of the hanging no doubt will be readily available somewhere on the Web. To not make them available (with appropriate warnings) just marks you as an anachronistic editor who’s still trying to enforce his/her own sensibilities on a public that no longer needs editors dictating what they do or do not see. The new-media ethic lets news consumers make up their own minds.
- This will reflect my political bias, but I think that US citizens, especially, should see the results of their tax dollars at work. Electoral outcomes in the US have created the mess in Iraq, and I think that American citizens should see everything that their votes have wrought — from Saddam’s hanging to the gruesome violence and despair that is today’s Iraq.
The news media should not sugar-coat the reality of today’s world.