By now, everyone has probably heard about Friday’s high-speed chase in the Phoenix-area that ended with the suspect taking his own life…live on TV.
Yep, that’s right. Fox News was high above the skies of Phoenix, live, during the incident. And although reporter Shepard Smith was calling for the tape delay, the control room missed the urgency so this unfortunate incident was broadcast while it was happening.
“We really messed up, and we’re all very sorry,” Smith said.
Fox apologized for showing the violence on air.
“We took every precaution to avoid any such live incident by putting the helicopter pictures on a five second delay,” said Michael Clemente, executive vice president of news editorial. “Unfortunately, this mistake was the result of a severe human error and we apologize for what viewers ultimately saw on the screen.”
Why is a high-speed chase worthy of national news coverage in the first place? I understand why our local affiliate was up there, but was it necessary for it to be live on national television? Just because the media has the ability (and I guess, necessity) to be Johnny-on-the-spot, there still needs to be a moment when the producers, editors, reporters, etc. think about the news value of the story and whether the viewing public really needs to see that at that exact moment. Yes, a car chase may be newsworthy. Yes, the suspect taking his own life is part of that story. But, I for one have no need to see it live while it is happening.
I get this was a mistake, and one I hope Fox learns from, the other networks, too. But “mistakes” like this will continue to happen if we don’t remember one of my favorite expressions “just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.”
Curious what you think?