|Journalism's fine line
||[Sep. 28th, 2011|05:15 pm]
So, the police have sent warrants for the media that covered the Vancouver riots. This is one of those times when I'm not sure what to think as a journalist. As a person, I'm eager to see those who disgraced Vancouver and the Canucks with the damage they did to the city to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. But, as a journalist, I firmly believe in the line drawn between those in power and those who are not in power. A journalist's job isn't to enforce the law, but to act as an independent arbiter between those who serve us (politicians, policemen, entertainers) and those who are served (the general public).
It was interesting to watch the mob justice that came out of social media, and, I admit, I participated in it while it happened. People of all walks of life posted their photos of rioters to Facebook. The police also encouraged the public to send their photos to them directly, setting up email addresses to do so. The instant justice that happened was a testament to the power and ubiquity of social media. But, does this latest edict from the police go too far?
Does the media have a right, as an independent arbiter of information, to protect those they have footage of rioting? While the information they have will undoubtedly be of value to the police, should the police take the step of forcing the media to hand over its footage? The media is not in the business of enforcing the law, but now they are being an unwitting accomplice to doing so. It's a tough topic that I don't have the answers to. What say you?