Journalists condemn Bild’s coverage of shooting

Journalists condemn Bild’s coverage of shooting
Photo: DPA
The German Press Council, a voluntary self-monitoring watchdog organisation for journalists, condemned tabloid Bild's coverage of the Winnenden school shooting in a statement released on its website Friday.

Photos of the 17-year-old gunman Tim Kretschmer in a “heroic pose” beneath headlines like “Are you still not dead?” and “How could such a nice boy become a killer?” were deemed “inappropriately sensationalist” by the Press Council’s committee, as was a graphic that depicted the moment of a victim’s death after he went on a shooting spree in the southwestern town of Winnenden.

A 3D animated graphic on the Bild website which recreated the shooting spree from the killer’s perspective, “in the manner of a first-person-shooter video game” also went too far, according to the judgement.

In all, the watchdog received 79 complaints about Bild‘s coverage of the March shooting, in which 15 people died before Kretschmer turned his gun on himself.

Most complaints against the paper were directed against the publication of abbreviated names and photos of the gunman’s victims. According to the body’s code of conduct, “Victims of accidents or crimes have the right to protection of their names. Names of victims generally do not have bearing on the understanding of the events.”

The Council said that although it has sanctioned stories in the past that name crime victims as background information, they found in this case the images and names had been misused as a sensational element to draw attention to the story.

In all, the Council found 13 offences against its code of conduct in the Bild coverage of the Winnenden shooting.

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