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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Brent (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 1:16pm

    i knew you guys would end up doing an article over the inevitable 'outrage' that arose from that footage. as soon as Greg Gumbel said "we're not going to show the footage here..." during the half-time show, i envisioned Fox News and Entertainment Tonight up in arms about a nasty injury on live tv and how it was 'inhuman' to show it (or something like that).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 1:34pm

    Give youtube (or somebody credit)

    The second entry down on the page if you search for "Kevin Ware injury" showed just enough of a very blurry preview still frame that I had enough warning I DID NOT WANT to see any of the videos.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 1:51pm

    tl;dr Don't selv-censor because this kind of stuff should never be shown, self-censor because this is not the kind of stuff we want to be known for showing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 1:54pm

    On a scale from one to "two girls one cup", where do we rank with this video?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Prattle On, Boyo (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 1:56pm

    Gimme a break. A shin bone that pops through a kneecap is nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Compared to the sluicing, gory goodliness of a good slice to the carotid by the deadly sharp blade worn by an NHL'ers skate, Kevin Ware's injury was child's play.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Nigel (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 1:59pm


    It was horrific in real time. Worse than Joe Theismann's

    No way I would watch that again in slo mo. It was rough stuff.

    Probably worse than a bit of poop as well.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    More gore or get the fuck out the door

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    TheLastCzarnian (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 2:20pm

    Geigner's Law

    So you want your name attached to EVERY gory video, or just the sports-related ones? Personally, I'd want to skip the ones coming out of Mexico and the Middle East...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 2:22pm

    If you just have to see death and gore go to one of them russian picture sites that have that crap.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    BentFranklin (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 2:29pm


    I'm sure you're a great guy in person, but that's not why I come to TechDirt. Lately in some of your articles I find myself wondering why there is so much of Tim Geigner in them. This one has too much first person. Others have a surprising amount of cursing, or just too much passion. Your position as the author begins to eclipse the subject matter. You have a lot of interesting things to say and I agree with most of them but I think a more impersonal writing style would make your points shine better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Crashoverride (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 2:30pm

    I think CBS should be commended for not going for the ratings and showing through replays or such the injury. They handled it very well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Crashoverride (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 2:34pm

    Gorey spoiler alert here is what happened on live National TV:

    His bone snapped in half and six inches of the bone was visible protruding through the skin.

    Many of his teammates almost lost there lunch they wanted to halt the game and were visibly distraught with tears.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Zos (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 3:13pm

    You realize, at no point in THIS article, here on techdirt, do you ever identify just who the hell it is that's offended, what power they have to censor the media, or why we should give a shit over any other random ahole on teh interwebz.

    i'm assuming you got overexcited and forgot an explanatory sentence in there somewhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 1st, 2013 @ 4:35pm


    The big ol' link immediately preceding the quote wasn't enough? Methinks an RTFA is in order.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Zos (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 4:52pm

    Re: Re:

    honestly no. it's kind of not. i did read the article. here. thats when i realized my anger had no target, and had to click through and try to figure it out from there.
    i'm not sure RTFA applies, when we both agree that it's not in this article, but another article at the end of the link.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 5:32pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Just so I'm clear, you didn't read a call to not show the footage in the article I linked to?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    TheLastCzarnian (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 7:39pm


    Yeah, Helmet! You need to just dumb it down and suck! What's all this personality stuff you're bringing to the stories? Just the facts, man! If I wanted entertainment I would read Fox News!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. icon
    Zos (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 9:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    to clarify, and not being trollish, i'm saying that this article, here on tech dirt, needs one or two sentences, somewhere in it, giving some context and backstory, as to who the person you're referencing is, and why it's worth the article. this one. on this site, not the one that it links to.

    i don't know who that random moron with a webpage is. i don't see any reason to give him traffic. With that minor addition i don't need to.
    it wasn't actually meant as that big of a complaint, just minor constructive criticism.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Wally (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 9:27pm

    Irresponsible reporting

    I can give you some extremes in irresponsible reporting from showing images or videos similar to thst shown in that video.

    1. Irresponsible reporters trying to get a good shot of the action resulted in the death of Princess Diana.

    2. Under Saddam Hussein, Iraqi State Media was ordered to show daily dismemberment of "theives" and "dissidents".

    3. Every single school shooting since Jonesboro Middle School in 1996 has inspired (sometimes only attempted) copycat situations...well except for Chardon, Ohio, however, Chardon was a catalyst for major anti-bullying reform..I have never seen so much deep in my life with all the stupid speculation that occurs.

    4. Any member of the poparazzi. Brittney Speers to Kate Midleton Dutches of York's bare breasts to leaving a note in JK Rowling's Duagter's bookbag without the kid knowing what happened...the paparazzi are enough to drive famous people who wish to escape famous life even for a few hours, into anything from road rage (cites Toby McGuire), to basically being druven to extreme madness (shaving your head like Britteny Spears).

    So there you go Tim/DH, fine examples of stupidity in reporting :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), Apr 1st, 2013 @ 10:14pm

    Re: Re:

    it wasnt that bad actually. the real problem is that bad is a rather subjective term. when i saw the clip, my only thought was "ouch. that probably hurt".

    And thats why mr big d needs to not try to set himself up to be the keeper of all thats good and wholesome for everyone else on issues that twinge his nose.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 2:10am


    Not even fucking close to two girls one cup. It's bad but two girls one cup is fucked up on a whole different level.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    jsf (profile), Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 6:46am


    It all depends on what you have seen before. For a lot of people this type of injury may be "disturbing".

    Having worked as an athletic trainer in college I have actually seen this type of injury before. Usually in contact sports like football. I have also seen what I would consider much worse when I did a couple ride alongs with EMTs.

    Does this type of injury make me cringe? Yes, in the of that's got to hurt type of way. But, then I switch into how do we stabilize this and get the medical care needed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2013 @ 11:00am


    I hate all of you. I had been very successful avoiding watching any vidoes, gifs, or clips of this. I have been reading only the news stories that were very brief, and not at all descriptive past "Brutal injury".

    I hate you all for this article. I could have done without that visual.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. icon
    Laroquod (profile), Apr 5th, 2013 @ 10:04am

    Stop embarrassing yourselves

    Seriously Anonymous Coward? The world must be a very frightening place for you full of evil pixel-based dangers you do not wish to violate your precious, precious eyes.

    I watched it. It was no big deal. You all have some weak-ass stomachs, and for you to stand up on some moral soapbox as if the one with the problem isn't *you*, as if it's somewhoe *normal* and *acceptable* to get all offended that somebody has had quite an ordinary injury and that *shock* other people are looking at it. It's just laughable.

    It's not normal. You have a propblem. Get some psychoogical help. People break their legs all the time. Very often, they look funny and shinbones stick out. If you know the person, you console them. If you don't the person, you point and laugh. That's just life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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