The New York Times defended publishing a graphic photo of the victims of the Nairobi terrorism attack at DusitD2 hotel and office complex this week. Many Kenyans complained about the photo, the Kenya Star reported, even calling for the bureau chief for the Times to be ousted.
iMediaEthics wrote in 2011 about a troubling double standard in American photojournalism where foreign victims often receive different treatment in news photos than American victims. Specifically, our report looked at the 2007 murder of Benazir Bhutto and news photos that showed graphic images of the injured and killed.
In a Twitter statement, the Times said readers complained but argued it was necessary to publish the photo to show “a clear picture of the horror of an attack like this.”
Poynter noted that the Times‘ East Africa Bureau chief Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura tweeted, then deleted, this apology “I apologize on behalf of @nytimes and @nytphoto for causing anger and anguish over the photos that have been published with our reporter. Thank you.”
iMediaEthics wrote to the New York Times, which pointed us to a statement from Times associate managing editor for standards Phil Corbett. Corbett noted, “we should point out that this decision was not made by the main reporter, Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, or by any New York Times journalists on the scene in Nairobi.”
Corbett also flagged that the Times has published similar photos, writing, “In recent years, Times editors have made hard choices — and published similar painful photos — in situations ranging from a shooting in New York Cityto terror attacks in London and Manchester; to victims of the drug wars in the Philippines; to war and famine in Syria and Yemen; and many others.”
This is The New York Times's position on why we published the photos that we did. I've deleted my earlier tweets that did not explain the reasoning behind our decision. https://t.co/kZBnaJLvqo— Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura (@kimidefreytas) January 15, 2019
The Times‘ statement reads in full:
“We have heard from some readers upset with our publishing a photo showing victims after a brutal attack in Nairobi. We understand how painful this coverage can be, and we try to be very sensitive in how we handle both words and images in these situations,” the Times said. “We want to be respectful to the victims and to others affected by the attack. But we also believe it is important to give our readers a clear picture of the horror of an attack like this. This includes showing pictures that are not sensationalized but that give a real sense of the situation.”
The Times continued, “We take the same approach wherever in the world something like this happens — balancing the need for sensitivity and respect with our mission of showing the reality of these events.”
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