When news broke a few days ago about the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey at photo exhibit in Ankara, a handful of journalists who happened to be there captured the shooting with graphic photos and video.
And within hours, images of that shooting were leading newscasts and filling social media feeds around the world.
An Associated Press photographer’s image was shared on facebook and twitter, and according to an analysis reported by Mashable, the image spread at a rate 175 times that of a normal social media engagement.
Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies says the story was newsworthy in that the assassination of Ambassador Andrey Karlov has the potential to start an international incident. What make the images so compelling, she said, was that it showed the assassin standing over the victim, gun thrust in the air, in the middle of a sparse, sterile-looking art gallery.
There’s another reason why the images were so readily used by news organizations, McBride said.
“If you’re a news organization, as soon as the photo is out there, and it’s this compelling, you know that other people are going to be sharing it. And so it almost neuters your independent ability to make that decision because all of your audience is seeing it somewhere else,” she said. “If you don’t share it, if you don’t publish it, you become irrelevant.”