I like it whenever I come upon contrarian points of view. And newassignment.net has a doozy. Steve Fox writes about Virginia Tech student Jamal Albarghouti’s cellphone video of the shooting at Virginia Tech. Here are some of his thoughts:
As everyone steps up to applaud the “citizen journalism” that occurred yesterday, with kudos upon kudos give to the cellphone video made infamous by CNN… Consider this: the video had no inherent news value and told no story. It did have sounds of bullets being fired and screams. Those were bullets that killed, maimed and injured students and faculty members. This wasn’t a video game. Is such video responsible journalism? Are these the types of Citizen Journalists that people want to see? Are we doomed to create “citizen journalists” to play the I-patsies for cable television?
A poster in Fox’s piece also points us to Paul McCleary’s thoughts from CJRDaily called “What Happens When an I-Reporter Gets Hurt?”:
Arguably the most stunning thing about Albarghouti’s footage is not what he was filming — it took repeated viewings to figure out exactly what it was that he captured — but the fact that he seemed to run toward the gunshots. We applaud — scratch that — we expect any cameraman worth his salt to move toward the action, but a grad student with no experience in these situations?
I will respectfully disagree with Fox’s take on this. There is plenty of news value in a firsthand, eyewitness account of a major news story. Just because Albarghouti wasn’t in the classroom doesn’t mean what he captured wasn’t news. He had sound and he had pictures of police moving in. We show pointless exteriors of buildings hours after a crime has taken place there. This was news video. McCleary’s point is more provocative. There will come a time when someone rushes to he scene of a tragedy to capture it on video and gets hurt. Does that mean we stop asking people to send in pictures? No. It means we – as you already hear – tell people to use common sense and not take risks. Mind you – If he were my kid, I’d scream at him. (And take away his cellphone…)