Monday, February 15, 2010

Shame On Us!!

There have been many occasions during my 30 year television career when I've been proud to be a member of the broadcasting community. Today is not one of those days.

When Georgian Olympic luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in a horrific training accident, gruesome replays of the crash were broadcast worldwide by media outlets, exposing the family and friends of the fallen Olympian to images of the fatal crash over, and over, and over again.

Later, in an apparent effort at damage control, the IOC invoked its copyrights on the crash video and removed it from YouTube and several other Internet sites.

News agencies continue to play the horrific footage in their newscasts. On the "CBS Evening News," the video was shown three times —the last in slow motion. The "ABC World News Tonight" website continues to post the crash video. The "New York Daily News" website shows a still image of the fatal impact. The "NBC Vancouver 2010 Olympics official website" continues to offer a gruesome slide show of Nodar's death.

There is a distinction between the media's right and obligation to report the news and their need to obtain ratings to increase revenue and profits. When the news divisions at media companies went from public interest entities to profit centers, all efforts at propriety and compassion were pushed aside.

"If it bleeds it leads" became the the operating policy. Bill Paley must be spinning in his grave.

My heart goes out, not only to the family, friends, and teammates of this fallen Olympian, but to everyone whose personal tragedy will become a public spectacle to further the greed of our employers.

Bob Daraio
Broadcast Union News

You are absolutely right! I found the footage of the fallen Olympian to be in very bad taste. I consider myself to have a very strong stomach for gruesome footage, but I was so shocked and in disbelief that it was shown. There was no regard for the family, friends and fans. But yet there was a big stink about Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction. I don't get it. I still have the images in my head of the Olympian.

Angelique Fontaine-Berry
Hi Bob,

Very well put. I, amazingly, have managed to avoid all video of the horrific death of this young man. I first heard about it when en route home from the airport on Friday on NPR and I purposefully did not watch any news for the next day or so (I watch very little anyway, so no real loss). I was happy when Bob Costas announced they would not be playing it during Olympic coverage, but since it was all over every other media outlet, including all the NBC news outlets, the promise was a bit hollow.
I spoke to my an old friend that evening, who was at CBS that day, and despite the amount of graphic video she’s seen in her years she actually sounded shaken from the number of times she had to watch the feed. She mentioned the horrible slo-mo version in particular.

I have always had a problem working in news due to just this sort of event. I am happy to say I no longer do any news, though I surely support those that do in my role as a demo person for Avid.
The best I can do is to simply avoid televised news, but for an occasional watching of Brian Williams or The NewsHour, and continue to get my news from NPR. But is sickens me that the voyeurs among us not only wait for it on the news but watch it again & again via the internet.
Meantime, I hope life is treating you & Gayle well.
All the best to you both,


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