People in Kenya are angry at the New York Times for publishing a graphic photo of victims in the Nairobi hotel complex attack, in which 14 people died.
The photo, which was distributed by the Associated Press news agency, showed two victims with multiple bullet wounds slumped over their tables in a restaurant.
Including the photo, which did not come with a graphic image warning, has been called “distasteful, disgusting and deplorable,” and was a major talking point on Twitter in Kenya on Wednesday.
In the wake of the criticism the media council of Kenya called for the NYT to make a formal apology and remove the photographs from the article (as of Jan. 17 the images were still live in the piece online).
In a letter to the NYT, chief executive David Omwoyo Omwoyo said the publication's choice of photographs was in "bad taste, disrespectful to the victims...in addition to being unprofessional."
Should the images not be removed, the letter continued, the accreditation for the NYT correspondent in Kenya could be revoked.
At one point, people believed an account with the handle @NYTPHOTO had been suspended as a result of the criticism, but this is not an official Times account, and was in fact suspended years ago.
In response to the online criticism, the Times issued a statement addressing the controversy and defending the use of the picture.
“We understand how painful this coverage can be, and we try to be very sensitive in how we handle both words and images in these situations,” the statement said.
“But we also believe it is important to give our readers a clear picture of the horror of an attack like this. This includes showing pictures that are not sensationalized but that give a real sense of the situation.”
But the statement was met with a negative response, and a lot of people began sharing an op-ed published from the Times in August 2018 about publishing images of dead bodies.
The Times has published photos of shooting victims in the US, such as in the Las Vegas shooting from 2017.
A lot of people in Kenya also focused their criticism on Times reporter Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, who had the only byline on the article with the gruesome photo. In a series of tweets, she directed people to the Times photo desk, as she had no influence over the images used to illustrate the piece.
As criticism around the coverage intensified, there was also a hashtag calling for de Freytas-Tamura to be deported.
BBC Africa business editor Larry Madowo also criticized the Times for focusing on the fact that the complex that came under attack housed foreign companies.
Kenyans are criticizing German tabloid Bild for its coverage as well, which also published graphic photographs of the victims.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Bild for comment.