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Gadaffi’s Death- Would you post it?

by on October 26, 2011

After our discussion yesterday about whether or not to post the videos and pictures of Muammar Gaddafi’s brutal murder, I started thinking more about whether or not we as journalists are obligated to post images like these. At the end of the day, I think that as a news organization, our job is to show as much of the truth as we can about an event, no matter what it entails. We talked about how sometimes pictures can say what text can’t. And it’s true. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” doesn’t come from nowhere. When people see the pictures, they can see the expressions on the faces of the rebels that killed Gaddafi. They can see the emotion, the crowd, the setting. They can see Gaddafi’s body, the condition he was in physically- so many small details that could not possibly be covered in text alone, but that can affect the way one understands the event. With just text, one has to try to visual the event happening in their head. With a picture, they can see the people, see the killing, feel the emotion of the moment without having to imagine it. Pictures and video adds a new dimension to news.

The more we decline to post videos, the more rights we are giving up as journalists. I read this article about why some media outlets decided to post the pictures. It mentions the idea that someone else will post the images, whether you do or not. And most of the time, it is your competition that will. If you do not post it, you are falling behind. Also, not posting can be considered a type of “censorship” because it is giving you rules about what you can and cannot post in the future.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/23/images-gaddafi-shocking-headlines

Besides this idea, I have one other reason why we should post it. We talked about the idea of newsworthiness and that one shouldn’t post the more gruesome videos because it really isn’t newsworthy. I think that depends on what the purpose of your story is. The videos tells more than one thing. For one, they show Gadaffi is dead, which is newsworthy. But it also shows that Gadaffi is not just dead- he was killed by his own people. The Libyans rose up and took down this leader that had ruled their country for so long. The murder symbolized the hatred they had for this man, the extent of abuse they suffered under his hands. I mean, do you know what state of mind you have to be in to kill someone like that? Not just kill, but torture beforehand as well? This murder was a way of liberation and payback for these people. It wasn’t like American troops found him and shot him. It was the Libyans themselves, and this group decided that this was the end he had earned after the way he ruled their country. It is both a moment and history and a warning to other leaders that if they abuse their people enough, they too can suffer this fate. That to me is newsworthy.

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One Comment
  1. I agree with Anna in the fact that I would post photos or videos of Muammar Gaddafi’s death. As a journalist, it is our job to serve the public. We are supposed to serve them news and what is happening around us and the world. Just because the visuals might be extremely graphic, does not mean they should be hidden from our audience. We would holding back what actually happened. Everyone has the right to know, and the people can make the decision themselves whether or not to look at that specific content. I would personally write a brief statement, warning them that the following content maybe inappropriate for the younger audience and is extremely graphic. It is not necessarily our choice whether or not the public should see this information. Our job is to give them truthful facts and events that occurred, if we have it, and they can choose what to do with the information we give them. Not sharing these visuals would also be bad business for the news site or company, because most likely all of the other newspapers, websites or channels will be airing or printing videos and pictures of Gaddafi’s death.

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