Post made right call on photo

I’m sympathetic to the folks who think the photos of killers like Matthew Murray, who gunned down Colorado church goers Sunday, should not appear in the news.

But if you follow this logic, you could argue against showing the images of all kinds of criminals, for fear that making them celebrities will encourage copy cat crimes.

Not only would this not be in the public interest, because the people want to see these images and it’s important for the public to see them, but it wouldn’t be effective.

Photos and information about mass murderers will leak out anyway. In fact, you could argue that trying to hide information and imagery about a killer may encourage copy cat murders as much or more as highlighting the information would.

I’m not saying journalists should throw every photo of a typical gang member on the front page, but a photo of a mass murderer like Matthew Murray should go on the front page, absolutely.

So, the Denver Post made the right call today in running Murray’s photo on page 1. The Post Managing Editor Gary Clark emailed me the following in response to my question about The Post’s decision:

We ran Mathew Murray’s photo because, generally, readers are interested in seeing a photo of a person who is the center of a major story. It’s news. And this was not a Seung-Hui Cho-style, gun-brandishing self-portrait. It was a five-year-old photo provided by an acquaintance. In addition, the photo complimented the quotation on page one attributed to Murray.”

The Post made the right call. The Rocky, which ran Murray’s photo in the interior of the newspaper, made the wrong decision.


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