look at me, looking at them…..

I’ve just read a really poignant piece by Paul Carr over at TechCrunch on the dangers of citizen journalism and how ego-fuelled reporting not only loses us our humanity but also does not necessarily equal the truth:

“…the cameraman was not a professional reporter, but rather an ordinary person, just like the victim. And what did he do when he saw a young girl bleeding to death? Did he run for help, or try to assist in stemming the bleeding? No he didn’t.

Instead he pointed his camera at her and recorded her suffering, moving in closer to her face for her agonising final seconds. For all of our talk of citizen journalism, and getting the truth out, the last thing that terrified girl saw before she closed her eyes for the final time was some guy pointing a cameraphone at her. “Look at me, looking at her, looking back at me.”

I wrote a post a while back on digital rubbernecking and James Governor captured the feeling for me then in his comment.

With the widespread availability of technology for reporting is the race to capture “the” footage making us lose our humanity? Could you watch a girl die to be the first to capture a story or would you run for help? I know what I’d do.

Cross posted with my employer’s blog

7 comments

  1. Ged Carroll · November 9, 2009

    The ethics of rubbernecking is the same whether it is digital or not. Carr’s piece could as easily be pointed at the fourth estate particularly the likes of CNN and BBC24 who report news as it happens (and who we rubberneck through vicariously.)

    • Rebecca McMichael · November 9, 2009

      But surely prior to these tools, we weren’t exposed to this change in human behaviour for the general public…journalists are trained to observe and to report ethically and factually…..when the general public does it, surely it is a choice of putting their egos ahead of their humanity….?

  2. Ged Carroll · November 9, 2009

    I don’t think that the forth estate meets the standards that you mention. Particularly when it comes to live TV news. I think that the behaviour can be seen in the media before the advent of social media as we know it.

    • Rebecca McMichael · November 9, 2009

      I hear what you’re saying but saying “it’s happened before” doesn’t make it right or ethical now surely?

  3. Ged Carroll · November 9, 2009

    I think the morals of rubbernecking are repugnant regardless of the media and the professionalism, which is what I eluded to in my first comment. However singling out social media as being particularly evil is disingenuous.

    • Rebecca McMichael · November 9, 2009

      I agree social media isn’t particularly evil…it just makes it easier to expose / see exposed certain behaviours that weren’t as easy before it became mainstream.

  4. Ged Carroll · November 9, 2009

    Is a wrongdoing less wrong if it isn’t exposed? I guess that’s a philosophical question that can go round and round

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