New York Times posts ‘intense and graphic’ Empire State Building shooting photo

Romenesko readers have been emailing me about the Empire State Building shooting photo that appeared for a while on New York Times’ home page. Matt Mendelsohn writes:

I’ve never seen such a graphic photo published, especially when the caption just says “victim.” Is it the shooter or innocent victim? Couldn’t they have waited to find out, or made it clearer in caption who this was. (Presumably they didn’t know who it was at the time.) But if it was the shooter’s intended target, how do you explain publishing this to that victim’s family? And if it’s the shooter, still kind of graphic for the NYT front, no?

I’ve asked the Times to comment.

UPDATE: Here is what a newspaper spokesperson says:

It is an extremely graphic image and we understand why many people found it jarring. Our editorial judgment is that it is a newsworthy photograph that shows the result and impact of a public act of violence.

* NYT’s Nick Bilton: “The image …is incredibly intense and graphic” | Larger view
* Read the comments on my Facebook wall

* Instagram photo at shooting provides window into dirty underbelly of photo licensing (