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By Steven | February 23, 2011

Yes, it’s helpful to the country to understand the gravity of the disaster in Christchurch. Yes, we should cut news crews some slack when they’ve got to edit on the hoof. Yes, most of the coverage I’ve seen on TVNZ and TV3 has been responsible.

But I think the highlights packages of bleeding-head woman, bandage man, howling woman, and others similarly injured or distraught, repeated over and over and over again, is crossing the line. Someone make them stop.

[Tim Watkin over at Pundit takes issue with me in his comments thread. I join battle.]

Topics: Broadcasting Standards Authority, Media ethics | 9 Comments »

9 Responses to “QuakePorn”

  1. Graeme Edgeler Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Someone make them stop.

    The BSA?

    Because I’ve been thinking that too since it first started.

  2. Steven Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Well, the BSA doesn’t have injunctive powers. But privacy complaints can be taken straight there.

    I had in mind their heads of news and current affairs, or some wise heads in the reporting staff, or their in-house legal counsel, or some outraged members of the public.

    Dr Nicole Moreham might suggest an invasion of privacy lawsuit (see the discussions on Pike River privacy in recent months).

  3. Glassboy Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I don’t suppose the BSA has the power to fine reporters for hyperbole does it?

  4. Steven Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 4:30 pm


  5. Julep Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Yes I agree!! One of the first things I thought when seeing the footage (I had it on TV from about 4pm to 8pm) I thought about how invasive some of the footage was and wondered how many complaints would be filed with the BSA (this should be a compliment to you Steven, I took your privacy paper last semester and the BSA was one of the first things that popped into my head after watching it on tv, followed by the possibility of invasion of privacy lawsuits)!

    Some of the footage goes far far beyond any kind of public interest there could be to justify it, and some of it is just shocking. I would be outraged if I had been videoed in some of the situations, especially of people receiving medical care, or covered in blood.

  6. metanarratives Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Some of the videos posted online, especially the early ones, in my view, come close to the tortious line. BSA however cannot get at them until they are broadcast on the box.

    Maybe an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy is reduced at a time or in such an event and when the suffering isn’t confined to a particular individual but is across a large number of individuals all similarly situated in the event. But the counter to this is that the media focus on particular individuals to symbolise or represent or to provide an insight into individuals situation (… if we think that is what the media is doing).

    Unless someone is well heeled (and haven’t suffered monetary loss from the quake or is not occupied by it all) I won’t hold my breath for something to appear in the High/District Court.

  7. Kiwipolitico » Blog Archive » The television will be revolutionised Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 10:51 am

    […] I have little agreement with those who complain of media exploitation — for two examples, see Steven Price and Jonathan Green — although their arguments are understandable. I think most […]

  8. v008 Says:
    March 8th, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Interesting post Steven. We discussed this on the first day of Journalism Ethics and Law at AUT.

    What I’m concerned about is the BSA’s time limits for complaints. For those affected by the quake, making a complaint might be important to them but they might have other more essential and urgent priorities during recovery, or might not realise they want to make a complaint until later on.

    I wonder whether the BSA will allow delays in complaints given the circumstances?

  9. Steven Says:
    March 8th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    The deadline is statutory and there is no flexibility.


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