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We refuse to be part of the freak show

A moment of madness should not be turned into a media spectacle

Like other news organisations, we were sent the video of what looks like a severely disturbed woman jumping naked into a rubbish truck and resisting the police in Paceville.

While the video is perfect fodder for clickbait we decided not to publish it, and the reasons are many.

What if the woman was high on drugs? What if she was inebriated beyond belief? What if she's lost a loved one? What if she's the victim of abuse? What if she's lost her mind? 

We should refuse the temptation from jumping on the bandwagon to continue fuelling the voyeurism which clogs the social media

What will the impact be on the woman when she wakes up later today to realise her moment of madness has been turned into a spectacle for the masses?

What the media and the public scrutinisng the video should ask is whether enforcement officers on site are trained to handle such uncomfortable situations. Why did it have to be the garbage collectors who had to try to cover up her dignity?

We should ask whether illicit substances have become so easy to come by in a place like Paceville. Ultimately, we should ask whether it is right to turn personal trauma and tragedy into a veritable freak show in this day of social media?

I am the first to admit that each media organisation, including my own, sometimes makes the wrong call. But what's important is that we learn from our mistakes. 

Yet, we persist in seeing the (usual) media houses coining headlines to stereotype and demonise certain nationalities, migrants and minority groups. 

At their best, news outlets and social media give a voice to the disenfranchised and the power to publicise injustices that might otherwise remain under the radar. At their worst, they can be a weapon of mass reputation destruction.

As responsible news providers we should refuse the temptation from jumping on the bandwagon to continue fuelling the voyeurism which clogs the social media. 

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