The use of the YouTube footage of the Finnish gunman caused much debate at BBC News and was handled differently by us and other UK broadcasters. Our competitors chose to run the full footage of Matti Juhnai Saari issuing his threat "You will die next", followed by him firing towards the camera and the explosion of pieces of fruit across the lens as his bullets found their target. The BBC chose only to run the verbal thereat, but not the firing or the splattered fruit.
In an age of widespread availability of such footage on the internet, why did the BBC hold back some of this footage and were we right to do so?
Our thinking was that the editorially relevant part of the footage was the threat, which had apparently been seen by the Finnish police prior to the killings. However we decided the firing to camera and the explosion of fruit would be alarming to some audiences and might be considered gratuitous in the circumstances of the mass murder he had carried out.
ITV News in the UK also used a montage of footage of the threats made prior to mass murder by the killers at Columbine High and Virginia Tech. These pictures made the point that there appears to be a copycat pattern of video postings followed by killings. BBC News took the view that it was unnecessary to make that point by repeating those shocking images. Some viewers might feel that by over-using such images broadcasters are contributing to the notoriety that such killers appear to crave.
Of course many online video distributors and international broadcasters have decided to publish those videos and the BBC's decision not to use all of the pictures does not significantly reduce their exposure around the world. Nevertheless we believe our audiences want us to set limits and only to use material where it is editorially relevant.