Does the power of a dramatic image depend upon how fast it gets distributed?

Because I’ve been writing a paper about how a visual image – a video – of an Ethiopian domestic worker being beaten in Beirut went viral last spring, I was fascinated by this AP graphic available on Visually. It shows how photojournalist Malcolm Browne’s iconic images of the self-immolating monk in 1963 Vietnam traveled to publication in the US.

It took 15 hours for the images to reach the US and even then the most famous image was not initially the first one used. Today, would the image even come from a professional photographer? Or would citizen journalists (“witnesses”) have been the ones to document the event? Would that matter?

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