Mar 4, 2013

MMMM # 365 -- Warning Viewers

     Almost two years ago, The Washington Post wondered aloud in a column whether they should print pictures showing Osama Bin Laden's body when they are released.
     The Pentagon has not released any of the photos or video of the raid, killing, or burial-at-sea of the world's most wanted terrorist. (Any number of fake photos have shown up online.)
     Yet just the other day I saw a network news report that included the back of a truck loaded with the bodies of not-most-wanted people who died in some calamity or another outside of the U.S.
     Domestic grisly is always treated differently from Foreign grisly.
     Old grisly is treated differently from new grisly.
Bodies at a WWII Concentration Camp

     I remember a newsroom debate over using video of a coroner carrying a tiny body bag holding the remains of a child who died in a fire. The decision was against using it, even though the body itself was not visible.
     Broadcasters frequently warn viewers when especially grisly images are about to be displayed..."The following pictures may not be suitable for all viewers" or something like that, though it always feels like I'm saying "Hey! Pay attention! Watch this hot stuff!" instead.
     I don't know  how much live video of people in the towers jumping was broadcast live, but there are compilations all over the place online. Not for the faint of heart.
     It's pretty amazing that the U.S. Military has been able to keep the lid on the Bin Laden pics. Their explanation has been that they don't want to inflame the Muslim world. Will that always be the case? Will there ever be a time when the photos can be published without an uproar?
     While mainstream media would debate using them if they had the pictures, the online "new" media would have them distributed with the push of a button...and they may yet have that chance.
     Just two months ago the legal battle over the photos' release continued in a courtroom in D.C., though the judges hearing the case seemed reluctant to order the Pentagon to release them.
     Would Will editors run the photos if when they are released?
     Would  Will you want to see them?

[ALSO: Lots of obituaries have been published for the newspaper business in the past few years, since their economic model collapsed. But the world's best known investor is buying them left and right. Warren Buffett says one paper in Arkansas is his model. It started charging for content way back when and has survived the Great Recession and Digital Revolution.]

[PLUS: The Anniston-Star is in a battle over the records of the sale of a non-profit hospital.  The newspaper says the contract, including the purchase price of the hospital. Seems like an open and shut open-records case, but who knows?]

[The Monday Morning Media Memo is a regular feature of]      

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