Posted by Taylor Eisenhauer
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?