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London terror attack asks uncomfortable questions of MSM

London terror attack asks uncomfortable questions of MSM
In the immediate aftermath of the terror attack in London, issues related to the 24-hour news cycle, the proliferation of smartphones, and ethical boundaries when sharing graphic information online have all come under intense scrutiny.

Every smartphone user is now a potential citizen journalist, and the urge to be first and share as much information as possible with the wider public can compel ordinary people and journalists alike to take action without sufficient restraint.

In the chaos of the immediate aftermath, several major MSM outlets were criticized for their coverage of the events, which included graphic, unobscured images and videos of the victims of the attack.

While social media platforms do have content filters in place, the sheer volume of graphic content shared in the wake of the attacks caused the questionable content to be shared far and wide on both legacy and digital media, with little to no filtering.

The widespread proliferation of extremely graphic images by both media outlets and members of the public faced sharp criticism online.

Others were quick to point out that live reporting can be a double-edged sword, and that it poses unique ethical questions in extremely time-sensitive moments.

One such victim of the intense desire to be the first to break a story was the UK’s Channel 4 News, which mistakenly reported the name of the alleged attacker as a man who was, in fact, still in prison when the events took place.

Channel 4 News issued a retraction and apologized, but the incident further highlighted the precarious nature of journalism in the digital age.

READ MORE: UK's Channel 4 News forced to backtrack on claims jailed ‘hate-preacher’ was behind London attack

Several MSM digital media outlets persisted with the editorial decision to publish graphic images of the victims on Thursday, which once again focuses the spotlight on both the producers and consumers of online news in a metrics-driven industry.

Unsurprisingly, with such emotive events still unfolding, many online used the attacks as a platform to further their own agenda.

However, others saw the citizen journalist response of many bystanders and media outlets as a damning indictment of the modern world.