“Hey, I’ve got an idea: Let’s give the terrorists just what they want!”

As far as I can tell, that was the thinking last night at the two major New York City tabloids.

Just in case you haven’t seen them yet, here are the front pages of today’s editions of the New York Post and the Daily News.


I post those with a bit of reluctantance. And only because it’s awfully hard to talk about them in a visuals blog, y’know, without the visual.

I’m not the only one having a strong reaction to this today. Both YouTube and Twitter were removing images and videos of the beheading of freelance journalist James Foley by the Islamic State. At one point yesterday, Twitter even blocked the account of Zaid Benjamin, the Washington correspondent for Radio Zawa. Foreign Policy‘s Shane Harris writes:

After his account was reinstated, Benjamin reported that he lost 30,000 followers during the time he was blocked from the social media site. Benjamin told Foreign Policy that he received no explanation from Twitter for his suspension. A spokesperson for the company, when asked, didn’t provide one.

Even Mediaite wouldn’t post the NY Post cover. Mediaite’s Evan McMurry writes:

In the meantime, let’s return to simpler days, like yesterday, when all the Post was doing was telling women to suck it up and accept their objectification like slaves.

I would argue putting these images on page one breaches most of what I’ve read and learned about visual journalism ethics. But then again, I don’t think most of what I’ve read about visual journalism ethics applies to NYC tabloids.

I would argue very strongly against using either of these images in a newspaper, magazine or web site aimed at a general audience. And especially not on page one.

Still, please take note this happened today. If you’ve never discussed the use of shocking images on page one, today might be a good day for it.

Those images are from the Newseum, of course. Which, by the way, named both pages to its daily Top 10 list.

This article has 3 comments

  1. Pingback: Did New York tabloids go too far by printing gruesome images of James Foley’s execution? - The Washington Post

  2. Capn

    Hey Charles,

    Way to give the terrorists just what they want, this showing up in our Facebook feeds. A lot more people see Facebook than the New York Post. I had not even seen these images until your post. Why would you proliferate them further? The terrorists thank you, but I do not! Write a column thrashing yourself now, please.

  3. Karis Collins

    I think that the pictures are, as previously stated, giving the terrorists just what they want, but I also believe that not putting it out there would be as if you were blowing it off and discounting the traumatic impact that it has made on family, and friends of the victim, as well as people who still have relatives involved in this mess. I think that describing the event would be much harder and come off more blunt, so I think the only thing you could do is post a picture. It’s your personal choice to look further into it, but sometimes in order to get a clear message out, you have to be blunt about it.

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