Media Chiefs Debate on James Foley Brutal Images Being Published

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By Athena Yenko | August 22, 2014 4:20 PM EST

Media chiefs, attending the Newspaper Works industry conference in Sydney, debated on running brutal images of James Foley beheading on the front page of different newspapers.

The Daily Telegraph, the Herald Sun, the Courier Mail and the Age ran photos grabbed from the video showing Foley's beheading. The photos used by these newspapers were less graphic as compared to the photo used in the New York Post's front page.

REUTERS/Tommy Giglio/Northwest
U.S. journalist James Foley speaks at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications in Evanston, Illinois, after being released from imprisonment in Libya, in this 2011 handout photo provided by Northwestern University.

The New York Post belongs to News Corp and had Australian journalist Col Allan as editor. It was criticized after publishing the video still of Foley with the knife jabbed in his throat on its front page.

At the conference, the chiefs were asked on how far they would go in publishing horrific images, which in the case of Foley, will make the newspapers a channel for the Islamists' propaganda.

Julian Clarke, chief executive for News Corp Australia, admitted that The New York Post's fron page had gone further than most newspapers. However, he argued that Foley's case is the most horrendous thing that is going on in our world and that readers have the democratic right to know the truth.

The ABC's head of editorial policy, Alan Sunderland, said that the Guardian Australia decided to limit the use of images to a more tone-down stills with no video and no audio, to balance the public interest and the privacy of Foley's family who appealed for media not to publish the graphic materials. And most importantly, ABC thought of the need to avoid broadcasting excessively graphic details to avoid becoming a mouthpiece for propaganda.

Fairfax Media chief Greg Hywood, on the other hand, said that the publishing depends upon the discretion of the editor of every publication for "every masthead, every website has to make its own call of the relevance for its audience."

The CEO of APN News & Media, Michael Miller, and the CEO of West Australian Newspapers, Chris Wharton, echoed the opinion of Hywood.

Netizens, upon their own volition, ignited a media blackout against sharing Foley's video with the hashtag #ISISmediaBlackout.

"You know what I think? And I know how crazy this sounds, but we need an #ISISmediaBlackout. Amputate their reach. Pour water on their flame," a user with the Twitter handler @libyaliberty posted.

The Met Police had released a statement warning that sharing or even viewing extremists video may be considered a criminal offence under the binding terror legislation.

"We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery," Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said in a statement.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Tommy Giglio/Northwest / )
U.S. journalist James Foley speaks at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications in Evanston, Illinois, after being released from imprisonment in Libya, in this 2011 handout photo provided by Northwestern University.
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