News or Not: Bloodied Images of Boston Bomber

It is always an interesting conundrum. What qualifies as newsworthy, as opposed to what appeals to morbid fascination, but which we don’t necessarily need to see?

This is where there is an interesting division, within the news and journalism industry, between the socially conscious maxim that people deserve to know the truth, and the need to keep people’s appetites whetted, regardless of how gruesome those appetites might be. News for necessity or news for, albeit slightly grim, entertainment.

The leak, and subsequent sweeping of the internet, of the images of suspected Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, sniper rifle laser trained on his face, bloodied from the preceding gunfight, have once again raised this flag.


What do these images give us, that previous stories and photos of the capture hadn’t already conveyed? Well, arguably, they show the Tsernaev more clearly in the role of subjugate, reinforcing the much touted rule of police-state systems that “you can run, but you can’t hide”. But, really, we already knew that the law had won that particular, preliminary battle – that the hunt was over and a man was taken into custody told us that much.

Perhaps they are designed to confirm for the public that we really had got our man, or to allow the public to have a face to hate for the crimes committed. But there have been plenty of other photos that have found their way to the internet which could have done this much. There’s a whole, glossy Rolling Stone cover…


So what, then, makes these new images worthy of a whole host of breaking news stories? It seems likely that it has something to do with the blood and the laser point, as these are the only aspects which differentiate these photos from previous ones. Perhaps it is because we are not simply satisfied with trying and sentencing accordingly. That sort of thing is too far removed. We get a kick out of the power role-reversal – seeing the aggressor physically hurt, obviously punished, bleeding…



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