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Technology, newsrooms and moral obligations

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Gator, Jul 1, 2016.

  1. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    This afternoon in Fall River, Mass., a man, while evading police, climbed out onto the second-floor ledge of the local newspaper building, the Herald News. The police and fire departments were attempting to get the man down, who apparently was threatening to jump.

    This certainly is newsworthy, and with the incident occuring right at the newspaper, it unfolded before a slew of reporters. One of them took to the paper's Facebook page and used the live stream feature. Personally, I don't have an issue with it, but a lot of people did.

    We as reporters want to keep the community informed, but do newspapers have a moral obligation in this case? If this guy jumps, I don't think he dies, but it could be a pretty grusome scene. And it's happening live, no delay, and it's unpredictable. Just something for everyone here to chew on.
  2. DeskMonkey1

    DeskMonkey1 Active Member

    As long as they don't zoom in on the splatter should he jump I have no issue with it.
  3. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Well-Known Member

    No different than watching one of those police car chase on the California freeways that are quite popular. TV stations have done it for decades ... Can't fault a newspaper for covering it live. The fact it happened in their own building justifies it even more.

    What I've found is that people are going to complain, especially on the Internet and on Facebook. But they'll keep reading the newspaper (at least for a while longer). Lots of people like to moan and groan on here but in the end, their voices don't mean much unless there is some legitimacy to their complaint.
  4. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    Even live TV has a delay and a producer who can pull the plug at a second's notice. Live Facebook streaming is live. There is no filter. There is a huge difference.
    HanSenSE likes this.
  5. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    I would say someone threatening suicide is somewhat different from a car chase. I can't think of many times when TV has carried a potential suicide live. Only time I can remember is when it shut down a major freeway at rush hour, and even then the shot was pretty damn wide. Being at your building makes it convenient. It doesn't make it justified.

    Little secret about live TV: there's very rarely a delay. The delay is a technical pain in the ass.
  6. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Well-Known Member

    You're right.
  7. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    Even if there's no delay, isn't there someone in master control who can dump out pretty quickly? Facebook Live doesn't offer anything of the sort.
  8. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    Yes and no. There will be a producer there, but dumping out quickly doesn't always happen as quickly as it should. A couple of years ago Fox News picked up a chase out of Phoenix. It ended with the guy pulling out a gun, walking behind a rock and blowing his brains out. It was obvious as hell something bad was going to happen but they didn't get out in time... and they were on a delay. It's tricky. All it takes is a director hesitating for a moment figuring out where to go out of the live picture and you're screwed.
  9. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    I think you're missing the point here.
  10. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    I mean, you can explain it to me if you want.

    Yeah, Facebook live has no system to drop out quickly if things go bad. TV sorta does, but it really doesn't work.

    Bottom line, you really need to look at whether (a) the event is truly newsworthy, and (b) the benefits of putting it out there live outweigh the risks. I would argue someone threatening suicide is not newsworthy in this instant, and the risks greatly outweigh the benefits. The medium doesn't really matter.
  11. Cape_Fear

    Cape_Fear Active Member

    Shoudl they have done this?

    Budd Dwyer. 'Nuff said.
  12. cjericho

    cjericho Well-Known Member

    Fall River, home of Hank The Angry Drunken Dwarf. R.I.P. Hank

    wicked likes this.
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