Should Area News Outlets Publish Local Graphic Wreck Photos?
It seems that every week in East Texas a major wreck involving serious injuries or deaths occurs. Many of the area media outlets will use their social media pages, especially Facebook, to get that information to the public as soon as possible, and quite often, along with that information will come photos of the horrific crash scene.
I'm not pointing fingers at other media outlets because we've done this, too.
Usually, the public comments that come with those pictures fall into two general themes.
- Prayers for all those involved
- How dare you publish those photos. Do you have no consideration for the family?
What about publishing those photos?
I can definitely understand the point of view that friends and family shouldn't learn of the loss or the serious injury of a loved one through a posted photo. Some would argue further, that a graphic wreck photo that resulted in death or major injury should never be posted because friends and family will not want to be reminded of that accident now or forever.
On the other hand, a car accident is news, and one of the main goals of a news outlet is to attract as many viewers to their online site, newspaper, or broadcast as possible. The written or spoken news story along with a graphic photo will usually attract many more views than just the written or spoken story alone. Call it sensationalism, but it's the way that news outlets have been operating since they began operation. Plus, what about pictures or videos of the deadly house fire, or the picture of the tornado-flattened home that killed 2 people. Is there a difference between that and what we're talking about with fatal vehicle accidents?
Both sides of the argument have valid points, plus there is one more thing to consider. In smaller metro areas such as Lufkin/Nacogdoches, more people tend to know one another. In many cases, it wouldn't take long for someone to recognize that red pick-up or that blue sedan as belonging to a friend or family member. I'm not sure if that's so much the case in places like Houston or Dallas.
So...what do you think should be done when it comes to question of publishing graphic photos of area vehicle wrecks? Obviously, we're not talking about photos that show injured folks, just the crushed vehicle. Please take our poll and feel free to add your own comments within the poll. The results of the poll will go a long way in determining our future policy on this.