If you happened to check out the homepage of The New York Times around 1 p.m. Friday, you'd have seen a startlingly graphic photo of a victim in this morning's Empire State Building shooting lying next to a vivid, red pool of blood. That photo, especially in its prominent position on The Times' site, did not go down universally well.
Times writer Nick Bilton described it as "incredibly intense and graphic." Readers, meanwhile had strong but mixed reactions. On Twitter, some readers called the photo "too graphic," but many also praised the paper for showing "bloody consequences of gun violence," as one user put it. Media blogger Jim Romenesko posted a note from a reader, questioning the paper's decision in more detail:
I’ve never seen such a graphic photo published, especially when the caption just says “victim.” Is it the shooter or innocent victim? Couldn’t they have waited to find out, or made it clearer in caption who this was. (Presumably they didn’t know who it was at the time.) But if it was the shooter’s intended target, how do you explain publishing this to that victim’s family? And if it’s the shooter, still kind of graphic for the NYT front, no?
Times managing editor for news Dean Baquet gave The Atlantic Wire this statement, explaining that on balance, the paper decided to run the photo because it was newsworthy:
It was a graphic image, of course. But it is a running news story and we thought it was a newsworthy image. We have heard from many people who found it jarring, and we understand that. We have also heard from some who thought it important to show the results of public acts of violence.
The photo is off the front page, but it's still among the series of images with which The Times is illustrating its coverage. And it's still graphic, intense, and newsworthy.