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Difficult decisions media organizations make when handling graphic images




In this handout image, American journalist Steven Sotloff (center with black helmet) talks to Libyan rebels on the Al Dafniya front line on June 2, 2011 near Misrata, Libya. Sotloff was kidnapped in August 2013 near Aleppo, Syria, and was recently shown on a jihadist video in which fellow US journalist James Foley was executed.
In this handout image, American journalist Steven Sotloff (center with black helmet) talks to Libyan rebels on the Al Dafniya front line on June 2, 2011 near Misrata, Libya. Sotloff was kidnapped in August 2013 near Aleppo, Syria, and was recently shown on a jihadist video in which fellow US journalist James Foley was executed.
Etienne de Malglaive via Getty Images

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Today, American intelligence officials said they've determined that a video showing the killing of journalist Steven Sotloff is authentic. The video was made public yesterday and images quickly drew attention online, both on news outlets and social media.

The news raises questions about how media should responsibly cover violent incidents like this.

"There is a general sense of mission and purpose where it's our job as journalists to let the American public and the world know what's really going on," said Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute

But, he added, there is a balance to be struck.

"I don't think that always requires the most graphic images or details that are available to the journalists as evidence," he said.