London terror attack asks uncomfortable questions of MSM
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.
It is horrendous that TV is broadcasting pics of victims, even with faces blurred, because loved ones will know their clothing.— Jane Merrick (@janemerrick23) March 22, 2017
Instead of posting inappropriate stuff on social media, do this https://t.co/D3565EWsTj— Adam Waters (@waters_adam) March 22, 2017
I know it's Twitter and there's no editor but please don't RT pictures of dead and wounded on Westminster Bridge. They have loved ones.— fleetstreetfox (@fleetstreetfox) March 22, 2017
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.
Some unfounded criticism of journos for reporting events blow-by-blow but this is what journalists do: attack on Parliament attack on us all— Matt Nixson (@MattNixson) March 22, 2017
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.
Statement from Channel 4 News: pic.twitter.com/MMo1sFu3Mh— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) March 22, 2017
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.
Far-right proselytiser Tommy Robinson is somehow down at Westminster with another far-right activist: pic.twitter.com/N83sOTh77e— Alex MacDonald (@AlexJayMac) March 22, 2017
Why do we even need detectives when idiots on twitter seem to know exactly whats happened without even needing all of the facts #Westminster— Tom Davis (@TomPJDavis) March 22, 2017
The people *already* using the horrible news from #Westminster to make a political point about Islam: you should be ashamed of yourselves— Carl Miller (@carljackmiller) March 22, 2017
However, others saw the citizen journalist response of many bystanders and media outlets as a damning indictment of the modern world.
Nothing angering me more than the people stood in the way of the emergency services taking photos in Westminster. Have a little dignity.— sophie (@sophiecorah) March 22, 2017
Taking photos of victims that have been run over is awful but a selfie with a selfie stick = reevaluate your existence now #westminster— Charlie Simon (@MotionMatter) March 22, 2017
I do despair in the knowledge that people are too busy taking photos and selfies on #Westminster as others fight for their lives.— Helen Statham-Hill (@OneHelenStatham) March 22, 2017
makes me so mad that people think of taking photos of victims before helping them - absolutely disgusting💔 #PrayForLondon— sam carr (@saamcarr) March 22, 2017