The Problems with Live Streaming from a Violent Crime Scene
With the latest shooting in Evansville, some thoughts have been brought up.
In case you aren't up to speed, there was a police involved shooting in downtown Evansville. Details about that incident are still coming out, but I wanted to focus on the amount of live streaming that happened in the time following. I understand that everyone competes to be the first on the scene and to get the best view/angle of breaking news. However, when does this go too far?
While live shots from location are nothing new for news, the fact that we all have access to broadcast live in our pockets is new territory. Not only were news organizations on the scene, but several bystanders were also live streaming the scene. The most troubling of these were streams that were zooming in on the actual body.
This is never acceptable to do. That's one of the first things they teach in any Mass Communication Law class: You don't show the body. That would be a horrible way to find out that a loved one has passed away. Police have procedures they go through before notifying a family for a reason. If any of the family members were to see the image of their deceased loved one, that image would be ingrained in their psyche for the rest of their lives. No matter the circumstances that lead to the victim's demise don't matter; that person was still a person and had people who cared about them.
Another problem with live streaming from bystanders is the amount of speculation that gets thrown around while streaming. Everyone wants to be a private detective these days and think they have the story figured out. With the current situation, the shooting has the potential to be very volatile in the opinions that form. We don't need false information being spread before people have a chance to hear all of the facts.
The event that inspired this was today's shooting, but this also applies to other tragic events as well such as fires and car accidents. I heard a story that someone found out their house was burning to the ground from a newspaper live stream.
We should also be wary of escalation and what is being done to attract viewers. What works this time (showing the body) might not be as "groundbreaking" next time. We truly risk losing a lot of our humanity when capturing these life-destroying moments. This very topic was tackled in the film Nightcrawler, and unfortunately, is becoming more true everyday.
Hopefully, you are never put in a situation where you are close enough to stream a crime scene or active disaster scene, but if you are, I hope you take what's said above to heart and think twice before hitting "Go Live."