Several media outlets have prompted ire from social media users, after posting or printing graphic images of the murder of journalist Alison Parker, shot from a first-person perspective by gunman Vester Lee Flanagan.
The New York Daily News shared an image (Warning: highly graphic) of its Thursday front page, on Twitter. Appearing under the headline: “EXECUTED ON LIVE TV,” the paper shows three images of Parker, the first in which she has a pistol pointed toward her, the second shows a muzzle flash as the gun is fired, and the third shows her facial expression as she reacts to the attack. Parker's colleague, cameraman Adam Ward, who was also killed in the attack, is not shown.
Reaction from Internet users to the Daily News' tweet was generally negative, with comments ranging from “shame on you,” “absolutely classless,” and “shameful death porn,” to many too profane to reprint.
The @NYDailyNews should be ashamed, that cover is tasteless... Disrespectful to the victims, glorifies the "snuff film" (as they put it).
— MikeFerri (@MikeFerri) August 27, 2015
What the hell is wrong with you people ? @NYDailyNews Of all the pictures you could have used , you choose that? Her father might see that
— Laureen (@laureenm01) August 27, 2015
@NYDailyNews this is absolutely disgusting. No respect for victims or families. Shame on you.
— Ted Dooley (@EJDooley) August 27, 2015
@NYDailyNews sensationalizing incidents like this by plastering them on your front page is part of the reason people do things like this...
— Andy (@SharplyTaylored) August 27, 2015
British tabloid the Sun also featured an image on its front page (Warning: graphic) of a pistol firing, under the headline “SHOT DEAD... ON LIVE TV,” which also attracted a similar string of negative comments from online users.
Some users also contrasted the coverage with the less sensational approach taken by other outlets.
— St. John B. Smith (@stjbs) August 27, 2015
Some commentators argued, however, that posting images of Parker's murder could affect change. Former CNN host Piers Morgan, reacting to criticism from users for posting a picture on Twitter of Parker with a gun pointed at her said that it was the “right decision” to publish and share the images, adding:
“Images can affect change. America's senseless gun violence is out of control.”
Some Twitter users supported Morgan's position, with British journalist Neil Sergeant writing of the front page pictures: “It's an unpleasant picture but then it was an unpleasant event. Journalists shouldn't censor the news.”
News agency Reuters also posted images showing the moment Parker was first shot, on its Facebook page, attracting negative comments from users.
Some Twitter users, including Brent Watts, a meteorologist at WDBJ7 and a colleague of Parker and Ward's, urged Twitter users not to share or post the video. Others, like NHL hockey coach Corey Hirsch, urged Internet users to refrain from keeping the video in circulation.
“If you see video of the shooting posted on [Facebook] or anywhere, take a stand. Do not watch or share,” he tweeted.