Media Wrestles With Graphic Gadhafi Photos

Photo: Max Rossi/Reuters

Today’s tremendous news comes from the struggle in Libya where images and amateur video are emerging that claim to show the minutes surrounding the death of that country’s former dictator, Col. Moamar Ghadafi (spelled the CNN way). As Libyans and others around the world celebrate an end to his brutal rule, others are grappling with what images to release.

CNN published both the criticism and praise it has gotten over some of the photos it has published. Images of Ghadafi bleeding and being jostled by a hostile group, and a still of what looks to be his face post-mortem are all over the Web now. Gawker also has a chilling video of what it’s calling Gaddafi’s (Gawker spelling) “last moments.”

Images used by the AP and AFP came from Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. Poynter quotes Paul Colford, director of media relations for the AP, who said the wire service was “very careful to use only stuff we’ve vetted and feel comfortable about.”

This is an issue that comes up often among journalists — What images are too disturbing? It was an issue that came up again last month as media outlets looked back on 9/11 and The Falling Man image. Many outlets are now flashing a warning about the graphic nature of the Gaddafi images before revealing them.

PR pros handle plenty of photos and images in their work. What are your thoughts about what the public can and can’t handle?  The comments section and @PRNewser are open for comments.