Crash Photos Debate

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By Casey Bukro

Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists

A small Illinois daily newspaper routinely publishes photos of vehicle crashes that meet its standards: No blood, no bodies or other graphic imagery and no license plates shown.

The editor contacted the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists saying some readers complain that such photos should be omitted because crash vehicles can be identified by relatives of the driver. Other readers say that such photos have news value.

What do you think? Omit crash photos, publish them or display traffic accidents in a different way? What would be the most ethical thing to do, especially since this controversy is happening in a small community where many people know each other? Consider community values.

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The Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists was founded in 2001 by the Chicago Headline Club (Chicago professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists) and Loyola University Chicago Center for Ethics and Social Justice. It partnered with the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2013. It is a free service.

Professional journalists are invited to contact the Ethics AdviceLine for Journalists for guidance on ethics. Call 866-DILEMMA or ethicsadvicelineforjournalists.org.

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