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Archive for January 3rd, 2007

Saddam hanging video

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

As many anticipated, there is a video of Saddam Hussein’s last moments. His very last moments. His walk to his execution and of his last words. Even, yes, his moment of death. We all saw the official video a few days ago. It cut before the plank below Saddam was released. But then the unofficial one hit the net. Yep. Video capable cell phones now make even this, a highly guarded, extremely controversial and yet personal moment available for mass consumption. And the masses are definitely consuming it. The video is viewable on YouTube, of course, and nearly a million people have already viewed just the one link to it I clicked. (I’m not linking here, but just type in saddam on YouTube if you really want to see it.) The AP reports the person suspected of shooting this video is now in custody.

This raises all kinds of interesting ethical questions for journalists. I can just see Jan’s excitement now as she will inevitably bring this up in her ethics class this spring. So much for the car in the canal debate; this is even more interesting and timely. SO… I imagine her asking, would you show the video? How much of it? Would you run the a photo on the front page? Which frame? Why/why not? Does the newsworthiness of the person/event change the rules? How much is too much information? Is there such a thing? What theory would you use to defend your decision? Ah, how I miss ethics class. For me? Well, I wouldn’t run it. I won’t even link it. I wouldn’t even run the photo with a noose around his neck. But that’s me. I do have to wonder, though, while I wouldn’t expect to see his actual death broadcast on CNN, is linking to it on say YouTube almost the same thing? But I reason people will see it anyway, so why not provide people with the information they want? If they don’t want it they don’t have to click. Well… not quite.

This brings me to my personal reaction. I couldn’t help myself when I saw the first link to the “official” video. I was curious. Not about Saddam’s last moments — although I did find myself feeling weirdly mournful, how can you not be sad about any life, yes even that of a tyrant, that ends in an untimely death? — but curious about what the MSM would show, how much they thought I could handle.

I sat at my computer screen with my hands over my eyes only half watching, prepared that at any moment I could see his actual moment of death but praying I wasn’t given that chance. I wasn’t sure I could turn away, but I was also sure I didn’t want to see. If that makes ANY sense. Those were my thoughts as I sat mesmerized by the short clip on CNN.

So when I heard the whole video was on YouTube, I did click the link. I hit a page flagging the video for viewer discretion, and I confirmed so I could see how many other curious onlookers had watched. But then I chickened out. I immediately hit pause and exited the page. It turns out, I couldn’t watch. But, the question still lingers. Should I be allowed to? Should that video or the video of any death or extreme tragedy be available, online or anywhere else? The rules have changed. Cell phones ubiquitousness have changed the rules. Whether it’s a racist joke in a comedy club or the much-heralded but private death of a dictator, you can almost guarantee that anywhere news happens, someone will capture it — and perhaps far more important than having the video, someone will post it online. And then users, like me, will not have editors making decisions on what they can or can’t handle. They will have to learn and decide for themselves.

QOTD: Give a man a job he loves…

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

I’m going to post a few quotes today. They all center around the same thing, loving what you do. As I’ve often told people who wonder why I would choose journalism, it’s not about the money. You don’t get paid enough in journalism to not be passionate about and love what you do. Forunately for me, I do. I understand very well why one of my professors told me today, “The ‘fun’ is important. You have to have fun.”

“Give a man a job he loves, and he will never work a day in his life.”
— Confucius


“There is only one success — to be able to spend your life in your own way.”
— Christopher Morley

and finally

“No man is a failure who is enjoying life.”
— William Feather