The Guardian’s John Naughton — a blog supporter — has second thoughts about the citizen reporting that occurred in the London bombings. I disagree. He says in the Observer:
Hmmm … Can I be alone in having mixed feelings about all this? I think it was Heidegger who said that ‘technology is the art of arranging the world so that we don’t have to experience it’.
I find it astonishing – not to say macabre – that virtually the first thing a lay person would do after escaping injury in an explosion in which dozens of other human beings are killed or maimed is to film or photograph the scene and then relay it to a broadcasting organisation.
Whoa. Isn’t that the reflex that every reporter has? What’s so wrong with anyone else having the same need to remember and share and report and witness?
And what makes fellow citizens lay people next to reporter-priests?
On September 11th in New York, I didn’t know what I was: witness, reporter, survivor. I stayed at the World Trade Center to report after the first jet hit. My wife remains, well, disapproving of that decision, but that’s because, as it turned out, the danger was far from over. I, too, disapproved of my decision when I was enveloped by the cloud of destruction.
But danger apart, I knew I had to report. A few days later, I started this blog to continue remembering and witnessing. I also bought a camera phone to replace the plain phone lost in that cloud, because I often thought how different our view of that day would have been if it had been seen at eye level and not from rooftops miles away.
As a journalist, you would think that Naughton would welcome more truly eyewitness reporting, more facts, more stories, more humanity. And who better to provide this than witnesses themselves, now equipped not only with cameras but also with the knowledge that they could report what they saw themselves. Isn’t that better than second-hand reporting?
Naughton complains that some of the material they recorded was too graphic to be shown. Well, isn’t that true of any photographer’s rolls? That is why editors edit.
I’ve heard others fret that just-people, lay people, would be too obtrusive — but that assumes that professional journalists are not. Oh, but we are.