Images are powerful. They’ve taken over social media and data shows that engagement is much higher when photos are involved. In the world we live in now where imagery captures attention, it’s a given that news organizations are going to share images with breaking news whether they are graphic or not. Whether people are not fond of them or not.
People are so drawn to images that they might even skip the text and just let the photo tell the story. It really depends on what type of person is consuming the content. With images being so heavily consumed, this brings up the question of how graphic should breaking news images be.
Personally I’m not bothered by graphic images but that’s not to say that others aren’t. I’ve not faced a situation where a tragedy involves me personally and the images displayed would have a more personal meaning. While I am ok looking at the graphic images, I wouldn’t share that type of social media post to my followers in fear that they might be sensitive to it.
In the wake of the Boston Bombings, I wouldn’t want to see a relative’s image strewn all over social media if they were injured and helpless. While they weren’t my relatives in this situation, they are to someone and they might have the same feelings as I do. A photo has to be used with the news but how graphic should it be?
According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “By looking at the photos in terms of what they add to the news, editors should be able to determine whether publication is appropriate.”
News organizations are going to put out photos and news to attract an audience and tell the story. When graphic images are involved they might need to take a step back and think about the end user. Editor’s and social media managers who are selecting the images have been taught the ways in which the organization wants to do things but in times like the Boston Bombings, maybe the nation’s feelings should be considered.
I can’t speak for everyone and say they don’t like graphic images but it’s hard to believe that someone would want to see a member of their family or a friend go viral in this type of situation. A good solution might be to use a more graphic image inside the story link but when putting an image on a social media post that will be shared by many, have the graphic be less graphic.