Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, said in an e-mail message that the newspaper had “no policy against publishing things that might offend someone — lots of people are offended by lots of things — but we try to refrain from giving widespread offense unless there is some offsetting journalistic purpose.”

“A picture of a burning book contributes nothing substantial to a story about book-burning, so the offense seems entirely gratuitous,” Mr. Keller continued. “The freedom to publish includes the freedom not to publish.”

The episode has given rise to at least a little soul-searching within news organizations. Chris Cuomo, an ABC News anchor, wrote Thursday afternoon on Twitter, “I am in the media, but think media gave life to this Florida burning … and that was reckless.”