Two people are captured on camera at the moment they are shot dead. One picture is a grainy still from an amateur movie taken by a killer with a gun in one hand and a video camera in the other.
The second is one of the most renowned news pictures of the last century, taken by a respected professional war photographer who described still photographs as the most powerful weapons in the world.
Is one more printworthy than the other? If it was all right for the New York Times to publish Eddie Adams's Vietnam photograph in 1968, then it must follow that it was all right for our newspapers to put yesterday's murder of Alison Parker on their front pages?
There is no escaping the fact that the shooting of Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward while they were broadcasting live on breakfast television was a big news story. Bigger, you might say, than the summary execution of the leader of an enemy death squad in a warzone.
Bad things happen in war, but local television crews tend not to lose their lives on routine assignments. And viewers chewing on waffles and breakfast muffins with the one-eyed monster blinking in the corner of the kitchen don't expect to see their favourite presenters murdered in the middle of an interview about tourism.
But was this justification for the saturation coverage in this morning's British newspapers? And, most particularly, for the use of so many stills from the killer's video?
As can be seen from the front pages that were shown, it was perfectly possible to illustrate the story without recourse to snuff movie stills. The two victims were, remember, television workers, so there was plenty of archive material available.
In his Guardian blog today, Roy Greenslade writes that the question of whether papers were right to publish the stills all came down to a matter of taste. He says that some who cried Foul! were hypocritical in that they would view images "to inform themselves" and then denounce their publication as ghoulish.
He discounts concerns about invasion of privacy to focus on the danger of offending readers, and concludes that if the Sun was wrong to publish, then its six million readers must also be wrong for continuing to buy the paper (although not every reader buys the paper, of course).
Greenslade is probably the most-read media commentator in the country and, as a professor of journalism at City University, he holds a position of great influence over future practitioners of our trade. So what he says has significance.
But I believe that the coverage of this story was not a matter of taste. It was a matter of judgment. And I fear that we are seeing a worrying lack of basic news judgment in our national newspapers - and not just today.
Yet the Observer splashed on yet another Corbyn story; the Sunday Telegraph put it mid-page under a hamper follow-up to Friday's Paris train terrorist drama; the Mail on Sunday stuck with its set-piece hero-villain front, also based on the Paris incident. (Surely the absence of Shoreham from the front had nothing to do with its free flights promotion?)
So much is pre-planned these days, with agendas set in stone, that news teams seem reluctant - or frightened - to throw the specials away when a real story breaks. And so the unfortunates left in charge of their daily sisters last Sunday were left to pick up the pieces for the Monday papers. In the case of the Guardian, the result was a where-have-you-been-for-the-last-two-days heading - "11 feared dead in jet crash at Sussex airshow" - and this excruciating intro:
Police warned that more fatalities may be confirmed following the Shoreham airshow crash, after it emerged that at least 11 people are feared to have died in the worst British airshow disaster for a generation.
I have a suspicion that this is, in part, down to the erosion of the traditional boundaries between news gathering and news production.
News editors used to commission stories and then offer the dishes of the day to the paper's executives on a menu called the schedule. Once written, the stories would go to the backbench, which would decide whether they passed muster and where they should appear in the paper.
Now, in many cases, everything is decided by a team of executives at morning conference and ushered through into print without any disinterested eyes to look at whether the stories work or independent voices to ask whether a better splash had surfaced during the day.
Another symptom of this approach has been the spread of "agenda" journalism, where newspapers - particularly the Mail and Telegraph, but also the Guardian and the Times to an extent - increasingly use the news pages to grind their axes. Look at the coverage of migration - where the Express is also guilty - and the BBC. This is quite different from campaigning journalism and it isn't healthy.
All of this is a digression from the Virginia shootings, but it all comes down to the standards of judgment being demonstrated day by day.
So let's get back to those pictures and whether they should have been used, starting with a few questions that might have been asked last night:
Are British readers interested in the deaths of two rural American television reporters with an average daily audience of fewer than 100,000?
Probably not. It was the circumstances of their deaths - the live TV broadcast - that made them newsworthy.
Were the shootings connected to some wider matter of public interest - a political or terrorism link perhaps?
No. They were killed by a former colleague with a grudge because he'd been sacked.
Is the killer a threat to wider society?
No. He had a clear target, wanted publicity, and has killed himself.
Will the victims' deaths bring change or affect society generally?
Probably not. They have been used by lobbyists calling for changes to American gun laws, but other more deadly and more dramatic attacks have failed to achieve that, so these are unlikely to have much effect in that quarter.
Why, then, did papers devote so much space to the killings?
Because it was a real human interest story. Murder may be common, but not on live TV. We love stories about revenge. We want to put ourselves in the position of the woman being interviewed, of the anchor back in the studio having to continue with the programme after watching her friends and colleagues killed.
And then, of course, there was the fact that the gunman obligingly filmed the killings and posted them on social media for all to share.
So, what about the pictures? Did we have to see the Parker's terror? Did we have to see the flash of the gun? Why did even the "serious" papers run sequences? The Times, Mail and Telegraph did not think the story was worth a splash, so why did they run so many video stills (seven in the Telegraph and Mail, five in the Times)?
It's hard to offer an explanation. Arguments that might be put forward could include "the public has a right to know" or "we have a duty to inform our readers". To which I'd reply that the public has the right to know a lot of things that don't find their way into newspapers and, no, papers don't have a duty to print graphic images.
It is an editor's job to decide what is important to his or her readers. Half a dozen stills from a video are no more enlightening for the British audience than one - if you must - or even the file photographs used by the Guardian and Express. We don't need to watch a woman die to know that shooting people is wrong.
But it's "out there"; "you can't put the genie back in the bottle"; "everyone else will have it".
Like everyone else in your teenager's class will be going to the party or getting that pair of designer trainers?
Time to grow up and take some responsibility. Newspapers are not obliged to replicate what is on the internet or to match it horror for horror.
Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should, and just because material is available doesn't mean you have to use it.
And, anyway, isn't "It's been everywhere all day" the classic argument for downgrading a story rather than promoting it?
Even if there were a legitimate reason for the Sun to run so many pictures, why point readers to the "full chilling video" outside the paywall on its website?
Did it really think that readers would put down the paper and pick up their phones or switch on their computers to watch it on Sun online? Did it not think that anyone who wanted to see the video might already have googled it and found it yesterday? This was not a reader service, it was a device to drive traffic.
In some ways, the treatment of this story was similar to the gung-ho approach to the Isis murders, the glori-vilification of the killer we so charmingly nicknamed "Jihadi John" and the thoughtless reproduction of video stills of his victims defenceless in their orange robes. We gave Isis the propaganda it craved and today we fulfilled Vester Flanagan's ambition to have his grievances dramatically aired.
We slowly learnt our lesson on Isis and started using happy family pictures of the dead - remembering them as they should be remembered - but we are still in thrall to Jihadi John, however much we describe him as vile or evil. Only today The Times used an image of him in his black balaclava in a tweet to promote an eight-par news story that appeared at the foot of page six.
But it is really difficult to understand, let alone justify, today's coverage beyond the simplest - and most unwelcome - explanations: prurience, callousness, and lack of judgment.
What would have happened had the shootings taken place not in America, but in Norwich? What if the victims had been a local TV crew known to two or three hundred thousand people? Would our London-based newspaper executives have thought "We've never heard of them, so we'll use lots of gory pictures" or "They're British. We'll show some restraint"?
What if the victims had been a Newsnight reporter and cameraman, people we were used to seeing in our living rooms, people known all over the country?
Would the photographic coverage have been muted - in deference to our familiarity and their families - or even more excessive?
Eddie Adams won a Pulitzer prize for his Saigon photograph, but he always regretted having taken it. Thirty years later he wrote:
Two people died in that photograph: the recipient of the bullet and General Nguyen Ngoc Loan. The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapons in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. … What the photograph didn’t say was, ‘What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American people?’…. This picture really messed up his life. He never blamed me. He told me if I hadn’t taken the picture, someone else would have, but I’ve felt bad for him and his family for a long time. … I sent flowers when I heard that he had died and wrote, “I’m sorry. There are tears in my eyes.”
Despite Adams's regrets, the image eventually led to wider questioning of the prosecution of the war in Vietnam and to intelligent debate about the role of war photographers.
It is most unlikely that the sad shootings of Alison Parker and Adam Ward will have any impact on American society, and it is certain that they will have no effect whatsoever on life in Britain.
That is the difference. And that is why it was wrong for the Virginia murders to have been given the treatment they received from Fleet Street today.
It is time we started thinking more clearly about what we do and why we do it.