Guest Host: Indira Lakshmanan

Pall bearers touch the casket of Alton Sterling. Sterling was shot outside a Baton Rouge convenience store in an encounter with police that was caught on video and shared widely on social media.

Pall bearers touch the casket of Alton Sterling. Sterling was shot outside a Baton Rouge convenience store in an encounter with police that was caught on video and shared widely on social media.

On Easter Sunday, a 74-year-old man in Cleveland, OH was fatally shot in a random attack that was posted to Facebook by the killer. The vicious murder was the latest act of violence to be widely shared on social media.

Facebook has since closed the alleged killer’s account and issued a statement on the incident. But in a more connected world, scenes of unforgettable violence are only ever a few clicks away. What does their accessibility do to us? And how should sites that inadvertently host disturbing videos respond?

Guests

  • Nick Castele Reporter at WCPN ideastream in Cleveland.
  • Roxane Cohen Silver Professor and researcher in the Department of Psychology & Social Behavior and the Department of Medicine at University of California at Irvine.
  • Al Tompkins Senior faculty at The Poynter Institute, a non-profit journalism school.

Death & The Social Web

Viewers have more opportunities—some of them unavoidable—to stumble onto graphic content. This shift demands serious attention from news organizations. That’s compounded by the potential for psychological harm to journalists, whose jobs require them to work, sometimes extensively, with traumatic material. The answers aren’t simple, but the problems are clear. A panel of experts explored this issue in a discussion titled “Death and the Social Web,” hosted this week by Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism and Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.

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