POLL: Should Local Media Post Photos/Videos of Horrific Crashes
I would describe the picture below as a horrific crash. At first look, I would surmise that injuries were involved. If there was a person riding in the passenger seat, he or she appears to have taken the brunt of the impact. The injuries to that person or persons could very easily have been serious, or possibly fatal. By the way, this is a file photo that is from years ago and not from this area.
So, let's lay out this hypothetical situation. This crash has happened within the past hour or so. It is blocking or detouring traffic. Responding media takes a picture of the wreck and immediately posts the story and picture to their website or social media sites. Obviously, getting the word out that folks should avoid a certain area due to the traffic backup is laudable. But, what about including the photo of the carnage within that post or story?
There is nothing illegal about posting the picture. This is a news story and the picture is part of the news story. Plus, for whatever reason, many people want to see a representation of what's going on, good or bad. But, there is also a moral question to consider, and judging by social media comments attached to horrific or fatal crashes or events featured on media sites, folks can be very passionate about their views.
As an aside, let me quickly offer that this post is not to condemn any newspaper, TV or other radio companies. I have posted graphic pictures in past years and have received numerous comments in the decision to do so. These comments have definitely guided me to what is now policy on our KICKS 105 website and social media platforms, and I'll get to that policy in just a few.
Now, back to the question at hand on the hypothetical scenario and the posting of a picture soon after the crash. How do you feel about that decision? Most comments that disagree with the quick posting are concerned that family members and friends are not given adequate time to be informed by proper authorities of injuries and fatalities of loved ones. The argument being that no one should ever learn about the crash and subsequent injury or death of a loved one by way of a picture posted on the internet.
Once time has passed and family members and friends have been notified, is it then okay to post the picture on a story? Some would argue no. They say the photo would always bring back the terrible memories. Others contend that this is a news story and there should be a large degree of transparency involved. Is not posting photos a form of censorship?
What about videos where someone is shot or stabbed? Even if the actual act of the stabbing or shooting is edited out, should this still be posted? I've heard arguments on both sides. We need transparency. The video is a good learning tool for viewers. Showing someone moments before their death is not right and hurtful to their memory and their family and friends.
A lot of this boils down to Lufkin/Nacogdoches being a smaller market. A photo of a mangled vehicle is sure to bring about folks who know the owner of that car, truck or SUV. I've seen this type of comment many times after the immediate posting of a crash photo - "Hey, Sara, was Jimmy traveling on Highway 59 a little while ago? I saw a picture of a vehicle in a bad crash that looked like his."
There are two sides to this coin and many mitigating circumstances for each event, so we do not condemn the decisions of any other media. As far as our policy here at KICKS 105. We avoid posting graphic pictures of horrific or fatal crashes or events. The heartfelt comments from many have swayed us in this decision, but there is another reason.
Some years ago, on Highway 69 in front of Central High School, there was a terrible accident that cost the lives of two people. Faded evidence of that wreck still exists in the asphalt in front of the school. I can't even imagine the heartbreak that would come with the memories of seeing that reminder every time I traveled that roadway. Put yourself in the shoes of others before making a decision is something I was taught long ago and something I take to heart.
So, this is where you chime in. We've put together a poll concerning posting graphic photos and/or videos. We've tried to include choices that cover most scenarios, but you're welcome to include your comments.