My Journal Register Co. colleagues in Michigan are dealing with a new twist to an old journalism dilemma: publication of disturbing breaking news photos.
We’ll be discussing this issue at 3 p.m. today (just a few minutes away, but you can catch the replay if you read this later) in a live chat.
I’m not going to publish the photo here, though you can see it at the link below, where Macomb Daily Editor Rick Kelley provided an articulate defense of the decision to publish, which was made after considerable discussion and consideration by the editors. The photo shows wing walker Todd Green falling to his death in an air show accident. I’ve been involved in such discussions among editors for more than 30 years in this business.
The new twist is that with digital publishing, the photo stays online indefinitely, available in search results and so forth. So if your original reason for publishing the photo was because of its news value, should you remove it after a while, especially if you face a public outcry, as the Manchester Enterprise did.
The photo reminded me of the powerful (and controversial) Pulitzer Prize-winning photo by Stanley Forman that showed a woman and girl falling from the fire escape of a burning building (the woman died; the girl survived).
I hope you can join us for the live chat. We would love to hear what you think of the initial decision to publish and the later decision to take the photo down from the hometown paper’s site.