The live video coming from the site of an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon is fraught with journalistic pitfalls unique to a situation like this. On Monday afternoon, Fox News’ Shep Smith alternated studio coverage with raw, live footage from the scene, which contained images and information that would normally be checked or censored before broadcast. Case in point: this clip in which an apparent official on the scene is caught telling someone that “People have been blown apart…three for sure that are dead,” followed shortly by a shot of a man in a wheelchair whose legs have been blown off (WARNING: Extremely Graphic Video):
This was just minutes after the explosions, at a time when no deaths had yet been confirmed (at the time of this writing, there have still been no deaths confirmed), and way too early for anyone to have made notifications to loved ones. Those difficulties, along with the matter of broadcasting video far more graphic than otherwise would be permitted, are endemic to covering live disasters like this. Most crime scenes are carefully managed by authorities, and information about injuries and fatalities released with extreme caution, but dipping into live video feeds offer no such opportunity for caution. In February, for example, CNN broadcast live video of SWAT officers scouting out the hideout of multiple murderer Christopher Dorner.
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