Several years ago, a news agency was charged and fined for having fabricated a video, showing it later as a supporting part of a story. They needed an SUV to overturn and couldn’t get authentic video of it, so they set something up to show their point.
While there were plenty of cases of SUV’s rolling over, there was nothing convenient or handy for the news to impact their story with visually.
It was discovered soon after the video aired that it was not real or representative of any facts. It was set up and used to make a story look good. Really, really good. Other media outlets, and the public, didn’t take kindly.
Fast forward to now.
There’s a growing habit of using amateur submitted video from cell phones, pocket cams and other devices uploaded to YouTube, to support news stories. In many cases the video IS the story.
Not so long ago, it was a reporters dream to be sent to a place of turmoil to get the facts, get footage and report on location. The 1985 Mexico City Earthquake, Even Katrina of 2005 became a hotbed of fired up emotional on site journalism; the stuff awards are made for.
Maybe on location work is still a private dream of a good reporter, but it’s no longer the practice of the news agency to send anyone.
Much of the flooding in Australia was reported “local armchair style” using whatever video could be grabbed from Australian News agencies, and then largely padded with YouTube video, presumably taken by locals and uploaded. No first hand accounts. No interviews. No facts to go with the video stream.
So who is checking these videos out for authenticity?
Do the news agencies all suddenly have a tech standing by to make sure none of this is “created” or fabricated by budding directors? (or better yet by people like me just hoping the news takes the bait) If they do have such techs, they neglect to mention it in order to help legitimize the choice to use freebie amateur video in place of actual journalism.
That it bothers me to see Media slide down this hill is miniscule compared to the ramifications of being caught running video, as news, that was fabricated. “We didn’t know” is no excuse for a news agency, their JOB is to find the facts, and their job is to know.
I’m all for having cheery news segments that show the latest kitty pulling funny faces on YouTube, but the trend toward treating it as a repository of fact, is outright scary.