Photo Credit: Vickey Ford for Okayplayer.com
A Letter From the Editor: Where Okayplayer Stands on Images of Brutality
Dear Okayplayer Family, old and new,
The last few months have been rife with disturbing stories and graphics as the world has suffered an insurmountable loss due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, a pandemic that, like most things, disproportionally affected communities of color. As if that wasn't enough, we've continued to see a rise of our own homegrown American plague that has resulted in a continuous loop of disturbing videos exemplifying fatal violence against Black people.
As we move through our work on the Internet we are constantly met with these stories and the graphic images that accompany. These images are traumatizing, there is no way around it. And we are not in the business of traumatizing our readers.
While I have always worked with the Okayplayer editorial team to make sure we were mitigating the trauma associated with news consumption, while still doing our part to inform you, our audience, we handled most of these instances on a case-by-case basis. Today, I am sharing with you what originated as an internal document of Okayplayer's commitment to handling all coverage of this type on all of our associated platforms. I thought it necessary to be transparent with our readers about where we stand so our community can feel free to hold us accountable.
Moving forward I wanted to share the below guidelines for news coverage on all of violence of any kind on OKP's platforms:
- Under no circumstance will we embed a video or photo that exemplifies brutality that ends in death on Okayplayer.com. If we are reporting the story, we will provide a disclaimer to the audience about graphic content and then provide a link out at the very end of the article. This also applies to videos of extreme violence, shootings, and beatings that do not result in death.
- Approved photos of injuries sustained as a result of the above are discouraged but allowed if they narrate a point.
- We will not use screengrabs from any videos that illustrate someone's death, not even as thumbnails, within Okayplayer stories. We will resort to the use of licensed stock images.
- Images used to memorialize the victim will never be screengrabs from their final moments of life. If available, we will use a well-lit image that shows their full face looking at the camera, never a mug shot or other indirectly dehumanizing images.
- Above all, we encourage our team to remember that a life was lost. We aim to continue to handle these stories with compassion for the victim and with care to not traumatize our readers if they want information but do not want to engage with traumatizing photo or video content.
This is, by no means a blueprint for other publications, these are simply the guidelines we will be following here on Okayplayer and what you can expect from our content going forward.
"But Okayplayer is a music site, why do you need to run this kind of content at all?"
When I took on the role of Editor in Chief of Okayplayer in 2017 it was important to include political justice coverage in our beat. This is simply not a time where anyone can have the luxury of consuming the output of the culture without considering and educating our readers on the full spectrum of the life that influences the culture. You cannot turn a blind eye to political reform and enjoy the craft created despite injustice.
Not on my watch.
Take care of your spirits, I look forward to seeing you on our pages.
Editor in Chief
Okayplayer + OkayAfrica