Journalists Grapple With How To Present Video Of Police Shootings | KUOW News and Information

Journalists Grapple With How To Present Video Of Police Shootings

Jul 8, 2016
Originally published on July 11, 2016 11:14 am
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

And now we return to our main story today - the shootings of black men by police and police officers by a gunman in Dallas. People are shocked, outraged, frustrated and in pain. And as NPR's David Folkenflik reports, much of their reaction has been driven by the disturbing videos we've seen on television and social media. A warning - we'll hear some of them now.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Emotions are raw, and the video is raw, too, part of a kaleidoscopic stream of information overwhelming the ability of authorities and news outlets to process it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DIAMOND REYNOLDS: Stay with me. We got pulled over for a busted tail light in the back.

FOLKENFLIK: That's Diamond Reynolds, who whipped out her smart phone Wednesday night to document a traffic stop and captured her boyfriend, Philando Castile, dying.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

REYNOLDS: And the officer just shot him in his arm. We're waiting for a...

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER #1: Ma'am, just keep your hands on the wheel.

REYNOLDS: I will, sir.

FOLKENFLIK: The video was posted to Facebook and has been seen millions of times - another incident the nation might not have known about or cared about had not people decided to take matters and cameras into their own hands. In Baton Rouge, La., an advocacy group taped the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling - so did a convenience store owner Donald.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER #2: Get on the ground.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOTS)

FOLKENFLIK: Sterling did not appear to be resisting. Last night, just before 10:00 p.m. Eastern time, Fox News's Megyn Kelly cut short coverage of peaceful protests in New York.

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MEGYN KELLY: All right, look, we're looking back in Dallas, Texas.

FOLKENFLIK: A producer audibly swears.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KELLY: This is disturbing. This is - we're - I'm not sure what we're seeing, but it looks from this vantage point like an officer down.

FOLKENFLIK: Kelly and her colleagues in the control room effectively talked to one another to figure out how to proceed, even as Kelly addresses viewers.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KELLY: Look, we're not going to show - we're not going to show dead cops or dead bodies or hurt cops or hurt bodies or hurt protesters. We don't know what we're saying, so we're going to look at New York while we try to figure this out.

FOLKENFLIK: Dallas police last night tweeted out a picture of a man it called a person of interest in the killings of the officers. But protesters approached reporters to share footage on their smartphones, showing the man in the picture was down on the streets among them. He was wearing a rifle - apparently legally under Texas law - but he seemingly could not have carried out the shootings.

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NEWT GINGRICH: It took me a long time and a number of people talking to me over the years to begin to get a sense of this.

FOLKENFLIK: That's former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on a Facebook video live-streamed earlier today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GINGRICH: If you are a normal white American, the truth is you don't understand being black in America. And you instinctively underestimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk.

FOLKENFLIK: Gingrich, a white conservative, appeared with Van Jones, an African-American activist and former Obama White House aide, in a leisurely 23-minute video. They used to be co-hosts on CNN's rapid-fire and now-defunct show "Crossfire."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VAN JONES: All of these conflicts are mediated over platforms that reward conflict. TV - our show wasn't called "Cease-fire." It was called "Crossfire." Twitter should be called Hater half the time because the hotter it gets, the more the retweets.

FOLKENFLIK: And yet, the conservative columnist Matt Lewis offered praise for social media. Today, Lewis posted a column in which he confessed he hadn't believed that blacks were routinely the targets of police brutality. The era of Facebook live and smart phones has changed all that, he wrote. David Folkenflik, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.