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Social media adds new ethical dilemmas to newsrooms

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Chances are, like 70% percent of Americans, you have a smartphone in your pocket–which means you also have a video streaming device on at all times. This brings increased citizen journalism, but there are downfalls to the constant unfiltered content.

“You also have the rise of attention seekers, and people who will do bad things to catch it on video,” said Dawn Dugle, Creative Director for Telesouth Communications and former news director.

Dugle said having such a penetration of video via social media is bringing new advantages and challenges to journalism.

“There is so much being captured on video, more than any other time in history,” said Dugle.

Most recently, Steve Stephens of Cleveland Ohio uploaded a video of a murder he carried out, and later confessed on Facebook Live. That led to a multi-state manhunt before he killed himself Tuesday.

With video of such a graphic nature, it becomes a matter of ethics. If the video is available, should the news outlet share it, or just refer to it?

Dugle said it should be handled on a case by case basis.

“Sometimes you have to look at something, then be a filter for the audience,” said Dugle. “We can take video and pull a still photo from it, for example, like with the news reporter and the photographer who were killed on air.”

Video of a graphic nature, while it may be available, won’t always be shown if it doesn’t add to the story. Dugle said newsrooms around the country are faced with several questions before utilizing the video or its information.

“Does it further the story? Does the audience need to know? Can they go see it somewhere else? Do we need to show it?” said Dugle. “Those are all questions that should be answered before airing anything.”

This was a hot topic on Paul Gallo Wednesday Morning. You can listen on demand here.

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