“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.
- Go here to find Poynter’s list of resources for dealing with shocking images.
- Go here to read an NPPA article on visual ethics.
- Go here to see SND’s visual ethics code
Those images are from the Newseum, of course. Which, by the way, named both pages to its daily Top 10 list.