Las Vegas video raises questions


Competition in news is cut-throat with the increase of social media and electronic reporting. To compensate, news corporations across the globe have started incorporating multimedia to stories to engage a wider audience.

But one common question has blurred over the years, as organizations push to share the most newsworthy, unique and engaging content – what should be edited and how far is too far? The recent mass shooting in Las Vegas has showed that this line is blurring even further, and news media companies will go to great lengths to gain business.

In the days following the shooting in Las Vegas, the largest in modern American history, photos and videos began emerging from the incident. Among them were point-of-view videos from people in the crowd sounding the shots raining down on the crowd, police response to the scene and the initial investigation of the shooter’s room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

But something not seen until recently stood out. Major news organizations began sharing gruesome photos of the shooter’s hotel room, including images of the weapons and ammunition the shooter had in the room, along with an image of his blood-covered body from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Before now, this type of content was not widely shared. Editing of content in mainstream news media previously protected viewers from this type of content, and if anyone wanted to view it, it would take a lot of digging around the Internet to find a not-so-reputable online source leaking the information.

So what has changed over the years? In short, social media.

Today, it is so easy for anyone to share content to a mass audience with very little regulation. The constant pressure felt by large news organizations to stay ahead and get the most viewers to their sites, requires content to be well-developed and have more stopping power on social media feeds than any other person or organization sharing the same information.

More often than not, that comes by pushing the envelope and sharing content that may not always have been widely acceptable in society. Modern news media and the use of raw, point-of-view video are some of the most important components of a story to engage users. Has this push to stay current desensitized Americans by experiencing more long-term exposure to difficult topics? The response to the Las Vegas shooting has proven that censorship is not what it used to be.