Steve Irwin was shooting footage for his TV series
Crocodile Hunter early Monday when he was killed by a giant bull stingray. Now, those familiar with the digital media world say it's only a matter of time before the grisly footage surfaces.
"Once there's something on film, it's impossible to keep it contained," Paul Levinson, chairman of Fordham University's Department of Communication and Media Studies, told the Associated Press.
Appearing on Larry King Live, Irwin's manager John Stainton told King he hopes the video is destroyed.
"I would never want that tape shown," Stainton said to King. "It should be destroyed."
Irwin may have felt differently.
British gossip Web site Contact Music UK says Irwin once said, "My number one rule is to keep that camera rolling... Even if a big old alligator is chewing me up I want to go down and go, 'Crikey!' just before I die. That would be the ultimate for me."
In a 2002 Associated Press interview, Irwin said, "If I'm going to die, at least I want it filmed... We could have gone to MGM and gone, 'Hey, look at this tape.'"
Media analyst Martin Kaplan, of the Annenberg School of Communication at University of Southern California, told AP that there is no compelling reason the tape should be shown.
"The only remote justification for publicizing this would be accident prevention," said Kaplan. "But that argument is a stretch."
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism professor Samuel G. Freedman agrees.
"The lay person is not going into the water trying to have encounters with stingrays," Freedman said. "It would be purely titillation and necrophilia if anyone were to show this."
Kaplan said that just because the tape shouldn't be seen doesn't mean it won't be.
"There's a race for the bottom in our culture."