Weekly News Comment #12

A recent article by the New York Times focused on a single question surrounding the recent shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas: whether or not video footage of the attack should be released to the public.

While some advocate that the footage should be released immediately to inform the public of the terrible reality of such attacks, others argue that the footage serves no real purpose and should be locked away forever or even destroyed. Most occupy a middle ground between these two extremes, including the Rev. Stephen Curry, who likened the footage to that of the Kennedy assassination, but described the situation as being “too raw” for immediate release. Still others oppose the footage’s release for legal reasons, including a former Texas Ranger who suggested that it is still technically evidence in an investigation that might take years, and releasing it to the public might harm that investigation.

Overall, the article seems to suggest that while there are obvious issues with releasing the footage there is some journalistic and historical value to such evidence. While the families of victims in these attacks might be negatively affected by publishing explicit details, these details can also serve to make people angry or disgusted by the attack and subsequently take action to prevent future incidents. The fundamental question for journalists in situations like this is whether photographic or video evidence of such crimes adds anything to the story or is merely there to court controversy and attract viewers.

1 Comment so far

  1.   fuglsang on November 14th, 2017

    So what do you think, Nick? Should it be released? I can’t think of any value in allowing people to see it. I’m not worried about the families or survivors. I just don’t think the average person needs to be entertained by the suffering of others.

    I could be convinced I’m wrong.