James Foley's Video Analysis

Decent Essays
The ethics of journalism is crowded with a handful of fine lines, all of which make the process of deciding what violates these guidelines extremely challenging. News reports are enhanced with compelling photographs to evoke emotion and add a new dimension. The incorporation of certain images, however, requires a certain level of calculation to determine whether they infringe upon media ethics. In recent years, terrorist organizations have challenged journalists by employing a new propaganda tactic of recording executions. When the video of U.S. journalist James Foley’s execution surfaced in 2014, some media outlets published the video and others broadcasted frames. Since the execution video was made for the media, news organizations broadcasting…show more content…
CNN correspondent Barbara Starr stated that the “ISIS video is simply too horrific to show,” yet images of a shackled Foley appear on the screen. These images, although stills, are still part of the same video that is apparently “too horrific to show.” By broadcasting the still of Foley in the middle of the desert, the team at CNN is helping the terrorists spread fear as they show what they are capable of. Other scenes in the report are ethically allowed since they do not threaten the integrity of the subject or his family, as the screenshots do. A skilled reporter should be able to tell a story without images and had CNN looped the other images, Starr would have been able to deliver the same compelling report, as her information was accurate and reliable. Comments from the National Security Council and Foley’s mother enhanced the story in the same way that the reporters expected the photographs to. The National Public Radio (NPR) also used portions of the execution video during an on-air segment. In order to emphasize the British accent of the terrorist, the radio station played a small clip of the video for its listeners. Although supervising senior editor Mark Memmott claimed that the station “didn’t air so much that [they were] broadcasting his whole message,” it does seem useless to play the audio to convince the listeners. If the audience trusts the news outlet, there is no actual need to incorporate any portion of the execution video. In doing so, these media organizations are not showing compassion to the victim and his family. Those individuals choosing to see the execution video should have the right to make that choice for themselves and not be ambushed by news reports that are constantly showing images from the terrorist
Get Access