Protest footage: a cautionary tale

This video by ITN News of yesterday’s protest marches surprised me, but it illustrates some of the common traps that video journalism often falls into pretty well.

The video surprises me because even though it’s from a major news outlet and includes footage shot from a helicopter – slightly beyond the scope of most video journalists – it has no commentary. It is simply a series of scenes of vandalism strung together.

In my view the video fails in at least two journalistic basics:

Context Who are these people, and why are they attacking property? Is British society disintegrating around our ears, or is this a tiny minority of a vast crowd of peaceful demonstrators? The video offers no clue.

Balance I was at the march, and was one of hundreds of thousands of people who managed to get through the day without smashing up central London. Those hundreds of thousands are completely ignored by this video – and given that they had helicopter footage it would have been easy enough for them to have at least shown the scale of the crowd.

Why has this video been released in this form by ITN, which as a broadcaster is bound by Ofcom to cover stories with due impartiality? The whole thing smacks of having been stuck up in a hurry to grab hits, and of sensationalism. Broadcasters shouldn’t jettison their professional standards just because their work will be output on YouTube rather than the evening news.

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1 Response to Protest footage: a cautionary tale

  1. dawnburrows says:

    I saw this coverage – it was very poorly explained.
    In essence, ITV, BBC and Sky simply showed footage of the violence, mainly shot by professional photographers from what I could make out, all day.
    The analysis of the reasons for the march or the government’s response were relegated to the last 20 seconds of each report.
    It must have been very annoying for the organisers of the march and those marching.

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