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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

question of the weekend: Should gruesome photos of famous dead people be plastered all over the media?

The Cutline notes that while U.S. newspapers, with a few notable exceptions, refrained from publishing photos of Muammar Gaddafi’s dead body, the media in other nations did not. London’s Guardian was one of the papers that did publish death photos, which was immediatedly called out in its own virtual pages by Mark Lawson in its Comment Is Free section:

The issue is most acute for newspapers because a front page (either paper or online) is designed to take readers unawares and attract the curiosity of passing trade. Unlike in television, no warning can be given of what is about to be seen, although, for me, the standard warnings given by broadcasters yesterday (“images which some viewers may find offensive”) were inadequate for the leap in morbid detail that some of these pictures represented.

Though having largely caused the problem by making editorial control of questionable images so much harder to impose, online media may also be best placed to solve it. The most potentially upsetting images could be kept from general bulletins and front pages and restricted to online boxes which, like the curtained-off sections of art galleries, allow admission only to those who know what they are getting. Even presidents, Bill Clinton once pleaded, deserve a private life. Even tyrants, I would argue, deserve a private death.

The issue came to the fore recently when Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. troops in Pakistan. From Global Post:

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed court documents arguing against releasing photos and video of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s death in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.

Justice officials said the 52 images of the deceased bin Laden were classified and could prompt violence against Americans overseas if they were made public, The Associated Press reports.

The government asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

It’s not just dead villains prompting the question — now it’s cropping up around the death of Michael Jackson.

What do you think? Should gruesome photos of famous dead people be plastered all over the media?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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