Friday, October 21, 2011

How we chose Gadhafi photographs

McClatchy editors have an "editor-to-editor" email that we use for instant "roundtable" discussions without the pains of coordinating times, phone numbers and meeting places. We use it for alerts, but more often reach out for ideas, problem-solvers and strategies.

As photographs and videos began flooding our news services yesterday after Gadhafi was killed, one editor quickly jumped in to ask about using images of a bloodied body, or of the photo showing Gadhafi's head -- a screen grab without any blood.

For most of us, the photos were already populating galleries online. Should they stay there? Anders Gyllenhaal, McClatchy's vice president of news, stressed "the difference between the expectations in print and online, where you're never more than a few clicks away from the most graphic versions of photos like these. But many of our print readers have different expectations, which flows from the fact that we are invited into their homes, onto the breakfast table. Also, some communities are different than others, which is why this is a decision each of us makes and reflects our own sensibilities."

On, we posted galleries with all the photos available, but we added this warning screen shot indicating that they contained graphic material. And we also decided that there was no compelling reason to display that on 1A in the Bradenton Herald's print editions.

Our editors chose the print photos from AP wisely, focusing on the jubilant Libyan people and revolutionary fighters who spent the past four decades under a dictator's tyranny. Inside, we published a black-and-white photograph that captured the image of Gadhafi's head being shown on TVs around the world.

The element of “is he really dead” was strong enough to warrant documenting the dictator's death. But we let you choose whether you wanted to see it, with a 1A editor's note: GRAPHIC CONTENT WARNING: This story contains vivid language and a photo of Moammar Gadhafi's body appears on 7A.

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