Man’s Instagram Photo of NYC Shooting Victim Sparks Media Frenzy, Controversy

Just a few hours ago, a man opened fire at the Empire State Building in New York City, killing a former co-worker before being gunned down by police. Ryan Pitcheralle was passing through the area when the shooting occurred, and used Instagram to capture a photograph of the victim lying in a pool of blood.

The reaction to the photograph was immediate, and ranged from people thanking Pitcheralle for providing an unfiltered view into what was going on, to infuriated people accusing him of trying to profit off tragedy and demanding that he take down the image.

News organizations around the world pounced on the photograph as well, with a stream of comments and Tweets asking Pitcheralle for permission to use the photograph.

Here’s a screenshot of what the comments on Instagram looked like before most of these request comments were deleted:

A search on Twitter for “@ryanstryin” reveals plenty of similar requests:

Virtually everyone these days is carrying around a camera wherever they go, so this type of “unfiltered” look at news will undoubtedly become more and more common.

It will also most certainly cause endless debate over the fine line between citizen journalism and the senseless sharing of images showing tragedy. What are your thoughts?

(via Lense)

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    “Get outta here, go, get outta here ye rats!”

  • Alex Cruceru

    Well sometimes, too much is too much.But here I think it’s a must, to show this shot, to use it.USA has had this guns problem for such a long time , that people are starting to fear getting out of their home.They really need to do something about it.So they have to see these kind of photos, they have to realise their kids could be in that place, they could be there, the guns should pulled out from the civillians hands, no one needs something like this.I for one agree with this, because this is reality.

  • bob cooley

    While I agree this should be the intent of journalism, it is not really true anymore in respect to how the modern media treats coverage. We live in the age of ‘if it bleeds it leads’.

  • Juan Ozuna Jr.

    I definitely appreciate the rise of “citizen journalism” as a new form of information sharing – I for one was desperately looking for more information when news of this broke, and while this photo may toe the line on what is tasteful, it definitely presents a more holistic view of what was happening.

    I agree with a comment made earlier about the decision to share to Instagram: regardless of people’s opinion on what Instagram means for photography, it is definitely a great sharing platform, which may have been why he chose it. I don’t think the intent was to add any “retro” style effects to the image or anything, but rather just to get it out to as many people as possible.

    As far as the interest of media companies to use the image, I’d also suggest the photographer license his image, even if for a small fee, that way he gets his name out there, and makes a little money. Of course, this may also open the door for a new wave of “paparazzo” type journalism where everyone is walking around with their camera-phones out trying to get paid. I’d be curious to know, too, what the terms are under Instagram for ownership and licensing.

  • Stephen Sidlo

    Between the 20s-80’s – Crime Scene Photographers used to buy film roll off citizens holding Kodak cameras at the scene. This is nothing new, just aggregated better.

  • Juliette Atkinson

    Perhaps my tweet wasn’t distributes images to the global media and if any one of them publishes it, the photographer receives 50% of the revenue. We believe citizens should be be paid for their news pictures and have successfully done this for 4 years now!

  • cepwin

    The question that hit me is, is a graphic photo of a shooting victim appropriate to run? Personally I wouldn’t run it out of respect for the victim. And that would be irrespective of where it was taken.

  • Wallerus

    You have a good point, but it would be a matter of taste. Personal gain or public information sharing. Just saying.

  • Randell

    Another image of a savage and brutal killing on the streets of America.
    Yawn! Why are people so upset or surprised at this.
    You can’t let a civilian population arm it’s self and not expect some of them to go around killing others.
    America is a rich and powerful country, but lacks a certain amount of common sense, and civility.
    If this image does one thing, then it’s another stone to throw at the NRA and all the other gun nuts in the states.
    Perhaps one day the victims of shootings will be seen as the martyrs of a war who lost their lives fighting ludicrously liberal gun laws.