Staff Editorial

Graphic Gaddafi videos raise issue of censorship

The mainstream media’s handling of former Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi’s death was questionable.

The footage and pictures of a battered Gaddafi are still being shown on news networks and are readily available online and there are still more videos readily accessible online that show the dictator being beaten and tortured before his death. Such violent images might be disturbing for younger viewers, and there should be guidelines on what is appropriate for a television broadcast.

Instead of incessantly repeating the gruesome details, perhaps the visuals of Gaddafi‘s death should be made available exclusively online with age restrictions. Maybe this is a barrier that can easily be compromised, but the censorship of sensitive material is a concept that media outlets must consider. Even though the coverage of Libya’s revolution is important, showing a man being brutally beaten and shot point-blank numerous times is not something a normal person should be subjected to on the evening news.

However, networks are tasked with the responsibility of reporting on complicated events as accurately as possible. Gaddafi’s capture and subsequent death was addressed in an up-front manner that left little room for skepticism — there was no denying he was dead. And although the videos are extremely graphic, it is the source material for reporters, and responsible journalists always make their sources readily available. Is this appropriate coverage for the death of a dictator? Do citizens need to see the bloody proof to confirm their suspicions? This is a question the public needs to answer.

It is easy for people in the US to condemn the actions of Libyans, but Americans have not been oppressed by a dictator for nearly half a century. If Libyans need proof to assuage their fears, they have it. The shock value associated with this event will not soon be forgotten, especially because Gaddafi left a stockpile of wealth that Forbes valued at more than $200 billion. The civil war has destroyed much of Libya’s infrastructure, and depending on how the wealth is distributed, Libya may become a much different country.


  • War, whether just or not, is a horrific endeavor. Sanitizing it for civilized consumption only makes it more likely that citizens and politicians will be willing to send young men and women off to die in ways that are "not fit for viewing." I fully support the showing of the most gruesome details of war. Perhaps that would force parents to explain to children why "the cause" is worth the suffering. Perhaps it would force politicians to justify why they send their citizens off to the horrors that we see on TV. But even if it doesn't spur those conversations, it would at least be a more honest presentation of war than the super-fun playstation-esque bomb camera footage from 20,000 ft that Americans have come to think of as representative of war.

  • This is the same thing we saw in WW2. The media was censored from showing graphic images of Hiroshima. Burned corpses, maimed Japanese citizens, death and destruction. They didn't want people to realize just what exactly occurred.

    Now those opinions don't want you watching the death of Gaddafi because it might be "too graphic". Newsflash: war is Hell. Maybe if people saw a little more gore they would rethink supporting wars and the military.

  • I think this is the American news media's reaction to the scorn it received for NOT showing Obama Bin Laden dead. Sort of a Take That! approach. There was ( and in some circles still is) quite a bit of controversy about the stealthily way he was killed, then unceremoniously dumped off an aircraft carrier with no video evidence available to the American public. (OOOOH) It is interesting to note that, even when a criminal is shown dead after his being hunted down, the American viewing public is STILL dissatisfied, because it's TOO icky. I'm guessing the American media just needs to fine tune what it shows to the schizo tastes of its viewers. Definitely someone dead, but not too much icky-poo-poo, please. Maybe they should bring in one of those morgue beauticians to clean up the ragged parts up first. Good luck with that.

  • As the previous commenters pointed out, people should know the truth, no matter how ugly it is. This is real life. This isn't a movie or a video game.

    If you're worried about the children, it's not likely they're watching the news anyway. If you worried they might come across it somehow, there's something called good parenting. Communication is key to good parenting, and if a child feels scared or whatever, maybe he/she can learn some of the bad things Gaddafi has done and point out this is real life. I think kids at least 9 can accept death for sure, and any kid under 9 shouldn't be alone on the net to begin with.

  • "censorship of sensitive material is a concept that media outlets must consider"

    Hahah this is seriously in a student newspaper.

    The media should be able to show the truth, regardless of brutality. Candor and taste must be used sometimes, but the Gaddafi story is simply too big to ignore.

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