No, Freak Gross Injuries Shouldn't Mean Media Outlets Can't Show Them
from the ouchy dept
Perhaps it’s time we codified this, but it appears that for every horrible occurrence there will be an unequal, disproportionately large reaction to it. I humbly suggest we refer to this as Geigner’s Law, because why the hell should Mike and Godwin be the only people with their name’s attached to things? Regardless, it seems to me that this odd rule has been more greatly followed in the age of the internet. Terrorism got you down? Well, then obviously everyone should censor all things even remotely terrorist. A bunch of people lost their marbles and went on shooting rampages? Surely this means protected speech like videogames should face the consequences.
And, now that anyone remotely interested in college basketball had to spend Sunday evening figuring out how to get their previously eaten Easter dinner out of their carpeting thanks to Kevin Ware’s disgustingly awful injury on live television, it’s apparently time to call out any news outlet that showed the injury in the aftermath.
Don’t give me the Deadspin “Warning: Very Gross” alert either, as though that somehow absolves you from any sin; hell, the video embedded in that Deadspin post is stuck on a preview frame that pretty clearly shows Ware’s shin bone sticking through his leg. Even if you don’t want to watch the video, you don’t really have a choice.
Sites like The Big Lead may have one-upped even the freeze frame preview; by initially including a fully animated GIF on their immediate blog post about the injury before pulling that GIF in favor of just the reaction shot of the Louisville bench, TBL managed to not only generate thousands (and possibly tens of thousands) of hits, but then were able to play the high and mighty, “we’re not going to show that anymore” card a couple hours later – presumably after searches for “Kevin Ware Injury” had died down. It’s hypocrisy of the highest magnitude.
Look, let me be super clear here: the Ware injury footage is brutal. The guy’s shin bone snapped in half and the angle of the shots show it with cookie-tossing clarity. In my opinion, you shouldn’t watch it, unless you’ve ingested some kind of poison and you’re looking to throw it up. I wouldn’t even think of embedding the video here. It’s that bad.
And that it’s that bad is also my opinion. The simple fact of the matter is that sports is news, this injury is news, and the footage of it is news. We can argue all we want about whether that footage has value for the news consumer, and I’d argue it does as a matter of public inquiry, but that it’s news cannot be doubted. There really is no argument to the contrary, as the article’s author themselves note.
I don’t care that it’s “newsworthy” – write the story, and let the gawking onlookers go find the video for themselves.
Follow the two logical problems in these statements. First, don’t show the footage, because everyone can already find it everywhere else. Surely calling on the media to censor themselves would never result in calls for similar censorship elsewhere, eventually disappearing this and perhaps even more newsworthy footage altogether. What could possibly go wrong? Secondly, if uncomfortable but newsworthy footage can be buried for something like sports under the notion that nobody should be getting “clicks” or money as a result of someone else’s pain, does that also hold true for news items about war, gun-violence, murder, drugs, etc.?
The fact is that the original premise was right, just pointed at the wrong target. Yes, in the age of the internet, people have choices in how they consume the news. What that means is not that the media should self-censor upsetting footage. It means that anyone, like me, who wants the news without that footage can indeed get it elsewhere.