posted by Lindsay Susla
I think having access to news at any time of the day can be great. We can stay up-to-date with the issues we find important and can check the news when it’s most convenient, giving the public a greater opportunity to be stay informed.
However, the 24-hour news cycle can also be dangerous. The pressure to fill all hours of the day with material can be daunting, and can lead to inaccuracies and mistakes in reporting. Fact checking can become a lower priority when networks are racing to be the first to break a story. I have watched the news many times when footage is being shown on a loop, but the station doesn’t necessarily know the significance of what they are showing yet. Being the first to report on an event does not mean that the best reporting is being done.
A recent example of how haste in reporting can lead to mistakes occurred when Fox News accidentally aired a suicide because they were broadcasting a police chase. There was apparently not enough of a delay, or no delay at all, built in to the live footage.
An article from the Amarillo Globe-News explains that exciting footage like police chases can “often provide a short-term ratings boost as viewers tune in to see how it ends.” However, it seems to me like using these potentially dangerous situations to boost ratings and viewer numbers is unethical. At the same time, I understand the pressure that journalists are under to keep their broadcasts exciting to the viewer who is constantly inundated with information and could always turn to another source.
Where do you weigh in on this issue? Is showing this kind of unpredictable footage permissible?