Maybe it’s because we’re a small town newspaper. Maybe it’s out of respect for the family or the victim. I always ask first responders if there is a death before I film vehicle accident scenes or other circumstances. If so, I avoid graphic views but instead focus on providing driver information such as road closures, etc.
There are many instances where video surveillance has helped solve crimes and revealed the true story of an event. Capturing and publishing a video of you or just about anything else in a public setting is protected by free speech. Yes, a compelling video gets a lot of attention but I don’t believe it’s worth the online views if a family suffers from it.
However, a video of a recent car crash that left a mother dead and her young son in critical condition was shared hundreds of times on a social media site. The body of the woman, her child and the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident had already been removed from the scene but the up-close-and-personal-nature of the film which revealed a heap of crumpled metal was enough to evoke unsettling visions of what these people must have gone through.
We’re all aware exposing raw, unfiltered events is a common practice but should we post such graphic material online even before police can break the news to the family? Public opinion can run the gambit from violating a family’s dignity to it’s just something that provides information. Making a conscious decision to film the carnage of a horrific crash may be considered in bad taste but it happens every day.
One country has imposed a law addressing it. The United Arab Emirates has a new law that if caught stopping and taking photos or videos of an accident then posting on social media can lead to imprisonment and a fine. The reasoning behind the law is based on irresponsible behavior and takes into account the relatives of the accident victims. I doubt a law such as that will ever happen here but it’s something worth thinking about.
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