An version of the provocative cover edited by a Twitter user.


Though the New York Daily News is not known for its understated front pages, the paper sparked the ire of many Wednesday night after tweeting an image of its Thursday cover that showcased the moment a news reporter was killed this week.

Alison Parker of WDBJ (Channel 7) in Roanoke was allegedly killed by Vester L. Flanagan II, a disgruntled former co-worker, on Wednesday morning during a live broadcast. Flanagan is also said to have killed a cameraman before killing himself. The Daily News cover used still images from video of the murder reportedly shot by Flanagan.

In a telephone interview, Jake Duhaime — a friend of WDBJ7 anchor Chris Hurst, Parker’s boyfriend — criticized the Daily News’s decision to use the images.

“It’s going to be very tough to walk around the city tomorrow and try to avoid that cover,” Duhaime said.


Jake Duhaime, left, and Chris Hurst, Alison Parker’s boyfriend. (Courtesy of Jake Duhaime)

Duhaime, a sports marketer in New York, said he understood why the Daily News had published the provocative cover, but said the media should “showcase the victims rather than the acts.”

“There is an emphasis on winning the front page,” he said. “… But sometimes you have to step back and say, ‘This is a little bit too far.’ These are friends, family members — these are people’s lives.”

Among those expressing outrage about the cover were many news reporters.

“These beautiful souls deserve better than this cover,” Jessica Layton, a reporter and anchor at WNYT in Albany, wrote.

“Alison Parker — who by all accounts was full of joy and so loved by everyone who met her — deserved much more than a cover highlighting her final moment of life with such panic and terror on her face,” Layton wrote in a follow-up e-mail to The Washington Post. “Her parents, brother, boyfriend and WDBJ7 News Family deserve more too. And I would feel that way no matter the person’s profession.”

“Disgusting,” Alex DiPrato of WSVN 7 News in Miami wrote on Twitter. “To show a woman as she is murdered is low.”

“Speaking only for myself, there are a hundred journalistically responsible ways to convey the horror of this story,” Mike Drago, a commentary editor at the Dallas Morning News, wrote in an e-mail to The Washington Post. “The NYDN page I saw tonight is not one of them. Showing the victim from the killer’s perspective at the moment of her death is beyond the pale of exploitation. It is death porn. My hope is that the editors find their wits before the paper hits newsstands.”

[Father of slain TV reporter Alison Parker: “My grief is unbearable."]

In interviews the day of his daughter’s death, Parker’s father likened images of the murder to Islamic State terrorism.

“It’s like showing those beheadings,” Andy Parker told The Post. “I am not going to watch it. I can’t watch it. I can’t watch any news. All it would do is rip out my heart further than it already it is.”

As video of the shooting circulated on Wednesday, some cautioned against the ill effects of how some media outlets thrust it at their audience.

“Forcing thousands of people to view two deaths without warning or preparation causes real harm,” Robinson Meyer of the Atlantic wrote. “For almost all viewers, of course, watching the video does not approach the anguish felt by the victims’s friends, families, or coworkers. But that the auto-playing incident was not the worst horror in a morning full of them doesn’t lessen the need to talk about it, to figure out what happened, and to prevent it from happening again.”

Justin Fenton, a crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun, said the Daily News cover offered insight into a crime that prose can’t.

“NY Daily News cover is frightening but not gory,” he wrote. “Reaction at least on my timeline is uniform outrage … Personally … covering gun violence daily, I don’t think the words convey the horror the way these images do.”

But Carrie Melago, a news editor for the Wall Street Journal, summed up the feelings of many.

“Still time for a replate,” she wrote.

Duhaime said that, most of all, he didn’t think images of his friend’s girlfriend’s death had any news value.

“There’s no public good or awareness that comes out of it except for winning the day,” he said.

Some other comments from those in the media: