“When video of the on-air shooting of a Virginia news reporter and cameraman [on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015] spread within minutes across the country — with the killer even posting his own footage online — they became the latest exhibits in a moral and ethical drama that is playing out in blood at newspapers and TV stations and on social media,” writes Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle.
The story says, “Among the central questions were whether media producers ought to be broadcasting footage of a double slaying, and what effect does such video, repeating over and over, have on society, let alone unstable potential copycats?”
“‘Yes, everything is available online,’ Bob Papper, a journalism professor emeritus at Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y., who has surveyed trends in television and radio for 22 years” told the Chronicle. Papper continued, “I don’t know if it drives what’s on TV other than it makes us numb to the realities of it. It may well change the standard, so it’s possible young people have a very different standard of what to show than an old fogy like me, but I don’t think we need to see people being killed on television.”
The Chronicle also spoke to Ed Wasserman, dean of the graduate school of journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. He “said there is a tendency in the media to pander to the public’s morbid fascination. If videos like the one from Virginia aren’t shown, however, the news media could be accused of concealing facts from the public. … Wasserman said coverage of the carnage in Vietnam changed people’s opinions about the war, while the lack of such coverage in Iraq concealed ‘the horror and public suffering’ that he felt the public needed to know about.
“‘The trade-off is between needlessly horrifying people and concealing what people have a right to be exposed to in order to properly respond to this gruesome act,’ Wasserman said. ‘It’s complicated. Victims of bloodshed have rights, too. At some level there is a privacy right not to have the image of their slaughter made into public currency.’”
If you are interested in this story, more details can be found if you click here, which takes you to the original Chronicle piece.