Online outlets showed Hebdo images but offline media didn’t. Why?


As the world struggled to understand the violence in Paris, where 12 cartoonists and other staff at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo were gunned down by Islamic extremists, media outlets were faced with a challenge: Should they publish the offensive images that may have helped trigger that violence? What’s interesting is that almost all of those who chose to publish them were online-media outlets, and almost all of those who refrained were traditional players.

Why was there such a clear divide between online and offline entities in the way they responded to the incident? Is it because digital media is seen as more of a lawless frontier, or because print and TV are seen as more permanent and therefore more risky? Or is it because digital-media outlets feel more compelled to protect freedom of speech because they feel more vulnerable than mainstream outlets? Or was it just for traffic?


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