Monday, April 1, 2013

Societal Discretion is Advised

If something gruesome and horrific happens and it is caught on videotape, do you think you have the right to see it?  I ask this in the firestorm of social media controversy following yesterday's decision by CBS Sports (and also by ESPN Television) to stop showing replays of Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware's leg injury.  In a way, this discussion shows the difference between traditional broadcast and print journalism--featuring editorial control--and the "new journalism" of the internet--where "unfiltered" coverage of events is believed to be the only "truth".

In the CBS production truck yesterday were dozens of men and women who decide what does and does not get on the air.  And I can tell you what the process was in determining what was shown on the air yesterday.  The initial injury footage was unavoidable.  Ware jumped in front of a player shooting a three pointer and landed in plain view on the court of play.  The decision to go to the first couple of replays was also justified--because upon first view, you aren't really sure what happened to him.  But after those initial replays aired--and it is clear not only what the nature of the injury was--but also the severity of it--NO FURTHER REVIEW WAS NECESSARY.  And I can guarantee that there were some in that truck who thought we needed to keep seeing that footage over and over again.  But an editor or a producer--with decades of experience in covering not only sports but also general news--made the (correct) call in deciding that we had seen enough.

Compare that with the internet "trolls" who filled my Twitter timeline (and those of the Media types that I follow) with posts about how "irresponsible" it was that footage of the injury was not being shown for those who weren't watching the game--but had flipped over to it after hearing about the injury.  And then you had the clowns with their camera phones videotaping the DVR footage of the limited replays and posting those on their Twitter feeds, Facebook walls and blogs--usually with the all caps tease of "gruesome" or "horrific" in it.  That was followed by some "legitimate" news websites posting those same screen captures.  Perhaps the saddest statement on our society today is that it took all of five minutes for two Twitter parody accounts about Kevin Ware's body parts (complete will still shot avatars) to be created.

So to those who consider themselves "unlucky" to have not seen what so many people are talking about today consider this: those of us who did don't consider ourselves to be "lucky" at all.  In fact, we would actually prefer to "un-see" it--if that was at all possible.

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