Boston Bombings Prompt Media Debate Over Gruesome Photos


In a society comfortable with blood and gore in movies and video games, the Boston Marathon bombings prompted a debate among news organizations about when images are too gruesome to display, reports the New York Times. The New York Daily News covered up a bloody wound on a victim's leg in the photograph it ran on its front page on Tuesday. As photojournalists discussed how changing photographs violated their standards, the paper's spokesman defended its decision, saying, “the rest of the media should have been as sensitive as The Daily News.”

The Atlantic got complaints from readers for posting on its website a photograph of a marathon observer, Jeff Bauman, showing bloody injuries that most news organizations chose to crop. Some organizations used it with a warning that “this image may contain graphic or objectionable content.” Said an Atlantic editor: “We thought it was such an honest and powerful representation of the tragic impact of the bombings.” Donald Winslow of News Photographer Magazine of the National Press Photographers Association said the association's code of ethics did not allow any altered photographs. It follows the rule that news outlets either publish an image or do not publish it.

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