On September 24, 2009 Derrion Albert was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The 16 year old high school honors student unknowingly walked into a fight between two rival groups, and was beaten to death with railroad ties. A witness video-recorded the entire incident, and then brought it to a Chicago news station and offered to sell it to them for a very steep price. Ultimately the station agreed to the terms, and released the video to the public.
There has been much ethical debate over the purchase/ release of the video, which shows in graphic detail Albert’s last moments and his cruel and violent death. Was it necessary for the news station to air the video, rather than releasing a written report of the heinous crime? What was the motive behind releasing this video? Were they just in it for the money they knew they could make off of the video, or were they genuinely interested in sharing this tragic story?
As our technology becomes more and more advanced, and it becomes possible for these types of “multi-media” journalism, we as readers/ viewers begin to expect more. We don’t want to read an article when we can view actual live footage. Sometimes, even though these videos and pictures may seem borderline unethical or inappropriate they are more powerful and better serve to capture the audience’s attention. I think the issue comes down to the motive of the news station. Obviously finding and sharing the news with the public is how they earn a living, but capitalizing on the vicious murder of a 16 year old boy seems unethical and heartless. Journalists walk a fine line in terms of ethics, and as our technology advances the line is getting thinner and more blurred.