Don’t just stand there!

Are you kidding me?

I was recently searching TMZ.com during a particularly dreary afternoon and was shocked at a video I came across.  Not one for celebrity gossip, I couldn’t help but click on a short video entitled “Dennis Quaid avoids DUI by a hair.”  The video shows an obviously intoxicated Quaid accompanied by two female companions, equally intoxicated. They are filmed entering an SUV with Quaid assuming the driver’s seat.  During this brief encounter several paparazzi are snapping photos and questioning Quaid about his alcohol induced evening.  They continued snapping photos as he drove away (luckily the police were nearby and stopped Quaid after he drove several feet, no summons was issued).

My very first, and very angry thought was what complete moron allows an intoxicated person to take the wheel?

Automobiles and alcohol are a deadly combination and if not for the swift police intervention, who knows what would have happened!

Then I started to look at this particular episode in a broader dynamic.  When do journalists stop reporting and start intervening?

Do journalists have an obligation to stop a brutal attack or should they keep the camera rolling?  If they come across a burning building do they make an effort to check for those trapped inside or do they interview the onlookers?

It truly is an ethical dilemma with multiple consequences and varied opinions.  A search of the Internet produces articles and articles on the subject of when to put the camera/pen down and get involved.

The answer is far from cut and dry.  As a new journalist I can only assume that this is an ongoing struggle faced by all of those who report on the happenings of the world.

As for what I would do, I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

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2 responses to “Don’t just stand there!

  1. Jody,
    I did want to link to the TMZ video I referred to but they charge a fee to link to their videos.

  2. Content: 4 These are questions we will hit when we talk about ethics in coming classes.

    As you say, there are no firm answers. News agencies do set up ethical guidelines about what sort of photos/stories they will and won’t run, how close a reporter can get to a source etc, but ethical choices come up every day. Editors sit in stuffy rooms and try to make educated, well-reasoned choices.

    Emergencies are other matters — you drop your camera and try to help save the drowning kid or do you snap photos as other people do it? Often you don’t know until you are faced with the situation. Still, you can prepare by trying to imagine what you might do. We will do this in class.

    Links: 3 (no worries on the TMZ. Thanks for alerting me, though.)
    Grammar: 3

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