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How much is too much?

April 19, 2013 by Alex Johnson

In a world of 24 hour news it’s easy to see how the need for new content is paramount. But in light of the two recent tragedies in the States (the Boston Marathon and the fertiliser plant explosion in Texas) it leaves me wondering, with the continuing use of amateur footage, if this is really the best way of communicating developments in a story? I was struck, in particular, by video shot by a bystander at the Boston Marathon. It was televised on most of the major news networks both here and in the US and clearly showed the faces of the wounded, moments after the first bomb exploded. Is this the first that a friend or relative would see of a distressed loved one and is that really acceptable? I guess it comes down to your own individual view of what constitutes news and how much filtering needs to take place before it hits our screens.

Footage like this does fill a void in those first crucial minutes after an incident when hard facts are scarce. Although it is impossible to predict terrible incidents, such as those mentioned above, organisations and companies have a duty to prepare for them. Alongside emergency response planning they should also consider how they communicate with their stakeholders, including the press, so that alongside the shaky handheld footage is a considered response helping to clarify the uncertainty.

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