Social media’s feedback loop means that when Guido published pictures of yesterday’s events we got a lot of “why are you publishing this, take it down, show some respect” comments. Some of them even claimed we were only publishing the news for clicks and advertising revenue. We take the view that we are in the news business, that if you choose to come to the website or follow us on Twitter it is because you want to get the news.
Some other points; we wouldn’t show victims’ faces if we can help it, it is however a fact of modern life that in our real time news culture victims’ families do sometimes learn the bad news from the media. We also held back from publishing the most gory images. The media would not, in our view, be doing the public any good by withholding the reality of the situation in general. The carnage was real, closing our eyes to it does not change that. This is a principle reflected in the coverage in today’s major newspapers.
Oly Duff, the editor of the I paper, changed his mind about the front page photo (above left) after criticism on Twitter, taking the view that “there seem to be people with strongly opposing feelings about it, but ultimately cover should not be the story so best to change it…” Later tweeting: “Thanks for the various messages this evening – especially those criticising first front page for poor taste. No intention to offend.. Understand why it did, and apologise. New cover here. Chastened – and grateful for protection we all receive as go about our daily lives.” That is his call – most newspapers published the same graphic picture, if not on the front page.
If viewers and readers don’t like the images they can turn off. That is their prerogative. Insisting that in a free society a free press should censor itself out of a misguided sense of responsibility, or on the grounds of taste, is not something we accept as an operating principle. It is also strange that when the pictures are from foreign war zones the complaints are few and far between.