Journalist etiquette in the reporting of natural disasters…

I was watching the news coverage of the NZ earthquake last week and was disturbed by footage of a live rescue operation. The film crew were filming a man yelling out to someone stuck underneath the rubble. While you couldn’t see the person they were rescuing, you could hear the person calling out. Maybe I’m just a bit sensitive, but if I were in that position I would probably be telling that camera man to piss off and do something useful, like help out with the rubble? While a camera crew filming their rescue was probably the least of their concerns, it did make me think about the ethics or I guess, etiquette, of reporting, especially with the race for news teams to cover events as they happen. Back in the day there may have been fewer camera crews at the sites of natural disasters (I assume it would be mainly the major TV networks that would be there and perhaps photographers for the major newspapers / newswires). Nowadays though, with twitter and facebook often providing instantaneous news updates, journalists from all platforms feel that they need to show things exactly as they happen, so that they can beat their competitors to the punch – whatever that may be. Maybe what I’m asking for isn’t possible (you can’t really sit down with everyone and ask them to sign a privacy waiver or ask for their consent before you film them), but maybe journalists could be a bit more tactful in their reporting of disasters – particularly when dealing with victims on the ground. Anyway, that’s my two cents for the week. Does anyone share my opinion? Catherine (@CGuyder) & the WordStorm team

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