Muammar Gaddafi Killed: Media Exercise Caution In Reporting News (PHOTOS)

10/20/2011 11:00 am ET | Updated Dec 20, 2011

The news of Muammar Gaddafi's death sent media outlets into a breaking news frenzy, as conflicting narratives, gruesome pictures and chaotic reports all served to complicate the situation.

Al Jazeera jumped out far ahead of its competition, stating definitively at around 8 AM ET that Gaddafi had been killed in his hometown of Sirte. Citing anonymous sources, the network then doubled down, running a huge banner: "GADDAFI KILLED." Just about every other major media outlet held off on such a firm statement, waiting for some kind of official confirmation from Libyan or NATO sources.

As more and more information began to leak out, news outlets began slowly escalating the nature of their reporting. AFP posted a graphic picture of what looked like a bruised and bloodied Gadaffi after his capture. Sky News spoke to an official for the National Transitional Council in Libya. The man told the British network that Gaddafi was "absolutely" dead, and had been shot in the head.

Shortly before 9 AM, the New York Times began running an alert across the top of its site. "Libyan Government Confirms Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi Is Dead," it said.

Some American networks were more cautious in their approach. "Still not confirmed by US officials but @RichardEngelNBC reports that 3 different sources, all Libyan rebels, say Khaddafy has been killed," NBC News tweeted at 9:06 AM.

At around 9:50 AM, Al Jazeera aired exclusive, graphic footage of what Libyan officials later confirmed was Gaddafi's dead body. Sky News and CNN aired similar footage shortly after.

At around 10:17, the AP reported that the US had been informed of Gaddafi's certain demise. Shortly after 10:30 AM, CNN switched to a definitive statement about the death, as did the Times.

Below, see how many outlets reported the news of Gaddafi's confirmed death. (WARNING: Some of the pictures are graphic.)