Are news channels right to broadcast harrowing scenes of the aftermath of Flight MH17?YouTube

With the crash of Flight MH17 in Ukraine coming just a few months after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 vanished on 8 March, it's perhaps natural to compare the two disasters. Both affected the same airline, Malaysia Airlines; both involved a Boeing 777; both resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives (unless you believe some of the zanier conspiracy theories). But there the similarity ends.

Whereas as yet there is no trace of what happened to Flight MH370 on 8 March, let alone any wreckage or even a rough idea of where it crashed, the fate of Flight MH17 has rapidly become all too clear. Gruesome footage is already circulating of smoke rising, bodies among the debris around the crash site and apparently even the moment the plane hit the ground.

MH17 still
WARNING: GRAPHIC FOOTAGE: Aftermath of the MH17 crash in UkraineLife News

UK news channels are usually fairly squeamish about depicting the full horror of events around the world, whether they be of carnage in warzones, natural disasters or today's horrific crash. Some anti-war activists believe that only by showing the full horror of war will people ever be motivated to try and prevent it, either directly or by pressuring their political leaders. There is arguably less justification for publishing images of what seems to have been either a terrible accident - or an act of extreme recklessness by either Ukrainian or pro-Russian forces.

However in an age where so many have access both to digital recording equipment and the means to distribute images via Twitter, YouTube and other internet sites, it seems certain that we will be bombarded by ever-more graphic images - even if we are unable to always fully understand what they all mean.