Gaddafi Death Reporting
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23rd October
2011
  

Updated: Not Nice...

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Ofcom receives complaints about images of Gaddafi's death

gadaffi killed video There has been plenty of coverage about the death of Gaddafi, particularly as it was somewhat more graphic than usual news coverage.

UK TV censor Ofcom said it had received complaints about numerous broadcasters that aired the images of a dazed or dead-looking Gaddafi being manhandled by his captors.

Media commentators debated the unusually graphic images in Britain's Friday morning papers.

The BBC defended its use of the images as crucial to dispelling the swirl of rumour as conflicting reports emerged about Gaddafi's state. BBC newsroom head Mary Hockaday said:

We do not use such pictures lightly. The images of his dead body were an important part of telling the story to confirm reports of his death.

By contrast, American newspapers tended to shy away from the stronger images.

Update: BBC response re graphic news pictures

23rd October 2011.  See  article from  bbc.co.uk by Mary Hockaday, head of the BBC newsroom.

BBC logo When the end came, it came very suddenly. For months, the Libyan rebels, supported by Nato, were striving to end Muammar Gaddafi's rule in Libya. For weeks that goal seemed to be coming closer, but for many Libyans a tantalising question remained: where was Gaddafi? For days, attention has been on his hometown of Sirte, where Gaddafi loyalists held out. Then yesterday, Sirte fell and suddenly, unexpectedly, Gaddafi was found. A dramatic news day, which posed many challenges. Our continuing commitment to coverage of Libya means we were able to provide on the ground reporting from Sirte. We are the only UK news organisation to have had a permanent continuous presence in Libya since February and yesterday, our correspondent Gabriel Gatehouse was the only UK broadcaster in Sirte as Gaddafi was killed, able to provide first-hand reporting of what happened, carefully piecing together the day's events. We gained big audiences for our coverage yesterday across platforms. Col Gaddafi

It was a confusing story. This posed another challenge. In the age of mobile phones, footage of the capture of Gaddafi soon started to emerge. We could not always be clear of its origins so it was important to make what checks we could and then be very clear with our audiences what we'd been able to verify and what we hadn't. The other challenge was posed by the nature of the footage itself - very graphic, some of it showing Gaddafi alive but manhandled and bloody and other footage and stills showing his dead and bloodied body. We judged that it was right to use some footage and stills, with warnings about their nature. Part of yesterday's story, especially in the first hours, was the swirl of rumour. The images of his dead body were an important part of telling the story to confirm reports of his death. Images of him alive but manhandled were also disturbing, but told an equally important part of the story about how his captors treated him and how far he himself had fallen. As the different footage emerged through the afternoon, it became an important way for us to piece together what happened - what were the circumstances of his death, did he die from wounds sustained in the fighting or was he captured alive and then shot? As different officials and eyewitnesses gave different accounts, the footage helped us share emerging photographic evidence with the audience.

We do not use such pictures lightly. There are sequences we did not show because we considered them too graphic and we took judgements about what was acceptable for different audiences on different platforms at different times of day, especially for the pre-watershed BBC1 bulletins. I recognise that not every member of the audience will agree with our decisions, but we thought carefully about how to balance honest coverage of the story with audience sensitivity. The News Channel faces a different challenge. We know that many people join the coverage through the day or only watch for a short while. For these audiences we need to keep retelling the story. But we also know that some people watch the live rolling coverage for several hours, and with the Gaddafi story this meant some repetition of the graphic images. It is a difficult balance to strike. For the website, we chose to use an image of Gaddafi's body in the rotating picture gallery on the front page. We recognise that it is hard to provide a warning on the front page and so while we felt it was an important part of telling the core story in the early stages, as time passed we found other ways to convey what had happened on the front page, with the most graphic images at least a click away and with a clear warning.

There were undoubtedly shocking and disturbing images from yesterday. But as a news organisation our role is to report what happened, and that can include shocking and disturbing things. We thought carefully about the use of pictures - which incidentally we used more sparingly than many other UK media - and I believe that overall they were editorially justified to convey the nature of yesterday's dramatic and gruesome events

 

1st November
2011
  

Offsite: Graphic Justification...

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Yes, yes, yes - publication of Gaddafi death pictures was justified

sun on gaddafiChris Elliott, The Guardian's readers' editor, has waded into the contentious matter of whether it was right to publish pictures - especially on the front page - of Muammar Gaddafi's bloody corpse.

He points out that many readers and some members of the paper's staff objected to their use in print and online.

When I asked my City University students last Monday I was surprised to discover that many of them objected too.

...Read the full article

 

6th December
2011
  

Update: Important News Rightly Uncensored...

Ofcom decide that complaints about news coverage of Gaddafi's capture and killing do not warrant investigation

gaddafi captured video Footage of the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi badly injured shortly before his death was not too graphic to broadcast.

TV censor Ofcom complaints about the bloody news coverage but has decided not to proceed with an investigation.

The BBC received 473 complaints after the images were broadcast on its rolling news channel and main BBC1 bulletins in the week after Gaddafi's death, of which 197 were in the first 24 hours. A further 136 complaints were made to Ofcom about coverage on Sky News, ITV News, Channel 4 News and al-Jazeera.

A spokeswoman for Ofcom said the regulator had decided not to investigate after it found that the broadcasts of Gaddafi's final minutes were appropriately limited both pre- and post-watershed .