By ROXANNE YU
We’ve been ingrained with the idea that journalists hold a significant amount of power in society. Like it or not, it’s just how it is. Whatever is released and exposed to the public depends on whether a news story is newsworthy and relevant, in other words, “journalist-approved.”
What if the role of the viewer and that of the news media’s were to overlap? I’d say that would be pretty catastrophic. Imagine viewers dictating and interrupting news segments that are going on live. Surely, that would be disastrous.
Recently, Esmeralda Labye, a Belgian reporter from Radio Télévision Belge de la Communauté Française (RTFB), was sexually assaulted during her live broadcast. Labye was reporting on the Cologne carnival in Germany when a man kissed her on the neck and made obscene gestures while she was reporting live.
The story has gained considerable attention with several renowned news websites such as CNN, BBC and The Guardian reporting on the sex attack. A similar pattern persists across all these reports where Labye has been delineated as competent in the manner of how she handled the situation.
Irrefutably, Labye can be commended for the professionalism she showed. It would be difficult to be in a situation similar to what she was in, where she managed to remain calm and have her emotions in line. Her actions exhibit her credibility as a reporter. Above all, professional was seen through how Labye prioritized news delivery before her personal concerns for the time being.
Likewise, the decision of RTFB not to publish the video online is an issue of ethics. Ethical journalism has always been a sensitive topic when it comes to news reporting and the fact that the station decided not to release it online only shows accountability towards its staff.
News stories similar to this come and go but, from what I see, this story will serve as a landmark for future stories to come. RTFB handled the situation in their own hands making sure their reporter would not be more humiliated than she already was. In fact, the station’s decision not to publish the video online was solely for the best interest of Labye.