Should Fox News have posted that ISIS video?

Posted by Taylor Eisenhauer
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Image: Martin Fisch via Flickr and Creative Commons

Fox News has been receiving a lot of flack recently after posting the full 22-minute video of a Jordanian pilot being burned alive by ISIS. According to The Guardian, Fox was the only U.S. media outlet to do so. ISIS supporters then shared Fox’s link on Twitter, directing followers to the video.

John Moody, a Fox News executive editor, told TVNewser, “It’s not a question of how horrible the video is…The question is whether people have a right to see it and understand that there are actually people–although I have a difficult time calling them people–that would do this.” Moody then went on to explain that there was a very clear warning of graphic violence in the video, and the viewer has to make a conscious decision to click the link.

This controversial decision inevitably brings up the question of media responsibility: should Fox have posted the video? There’s the argument that the public has the right to know–and see–such events, no matter how disturbing. On the other hand, is the video necessary to the story? Journalists can simply write about the burning and still get across the (gruesome) message. Others claimed that Fox’s posting of the video effectively made them a platform for ISIS propaganda, as noted by both BBC News and The Independent.

I personally think that the video was unnecessary. Telling me that a man was burned alive in a cage gives me all the visuals I need. But at the same time, I also respect Fox’s decision to post the link. There wasn’t an automatic start on the video, and it could easily be avoided. Some of the conversation I’ve heard come out of this revolves around the American media’s hesitance to post anything so graphic. Foreign news entities post such things more often.

Journalists have long been gatekeepers, so it’s our duty to present news in a responsible way–to know when, how and what to tell the general public. Do you agree with Fox News’ decision to embed the video? Does the idea of the video serving as propaganda change your view at all? Any thoughts on the American media point I brought up? And do you think there’s ever an easy answer to decisions like this?

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3 responses to “Should Fox News have posted that ISIS video?

  1. Stories like this come out all the time, posing controversy and opposing opinions. Like you said, “There’s the argument that the public has the right to know–and see–such events, no matter how disturbing.” The public does have a right to know and see.

    Personally, I have no urge to see the video. And because the video is not automatic-playing, I don’t have to see it. It’s my choice, just like it’s everyone else’s choice between watching and not watching the video.

    Fox News presented the video in a reasonable and responsible way, and I think they’re getting too much criticism for doing something that any other news outlet could have done. Here’s what I think happened: Fox News did it first and other news outlets saw the repercussions. And because of the (*beloved*) reputation that Fox already has, it’s easiest for many people to just blame them for doing “something wrong”, again.

  2. I don’t think Fox should have posted the video. Yes, the public has a right to know-but like you said, do they really need to see it to understand what happened? I think posting something like this fosters sensationalism and feeds a desire for scandal, violence and gore rather than reporting the story in a more respectful manner.

  3. Issues like this one leave me feeling incredibly conflicted. As a news consumer, I want access to everything. I don’t necessarily want to watch it all (believe me, this video is not one I am going to look for), but having the option is an important part of my freedom. The idea that any type of information could be suppressed scares me because journalism has so often been used to reveal corruption, abuse, and other stories that the public needs to know. If those stories don’t come to light, the public can’t do anything to try and change the situation. So, as much as I hate the idea that ISIS can now direct people to Fox’s website, I am happy to know that an option is open to me as a news consumer, because I (and everyone else) need to be informed if I am going to make a difference in our world.

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