Monday, September 1, 2014

Would You Broadcast The Audio Without Verifying It Was Real?

A St. Louis attorney approached CNN with audio that the attorney said contains the moments when Michael Brown was shot to death by a police officer on the street in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9.

CNN was not able to verify whether the audio was in fact real, or even whether it is the actual moment of Brown's shooting. They trusted the attorney who brought them the audio.

Would you trust the attorney?

Apparently, CBS News was also approached with the audio but declined to air it because they could not verify what they heard on the clip.

Would you broadcast the audio?

If you do broadcast it, is it acceptable to put the disclaimer on it saying that you could not verify whether the audio was real?

14 comments:

Lian Parsons said...

If a news network broadcasts information, consumers will take it as fact. That is the purpose of the news, to accurately inform the public. If the news source does choose to present the content, it's important that they make it clear that it has not been verified. Otherwise, they're providing unreliable information and mislead people.

Shanel Bryant said...

On one hand, nothing should be aired without prior verification, especially in a sensitive case like this. On the other, this is a situation in which people are desperate to get news and you have to let them hear something that seems as important as this as long as you tell them who it came from and that it isn't verified yet. You must then let consumers know when you have verified it or found it to be false.

Kira Gensler said...

I would not trust the attorney, nor would I trust anyone who gave me audio and I could not verify it. However, if it was such an important topic or news story (like this one about Michael Brown) I would broadcast the audio and include that it was not verified. That way I can inform my audiences/consumers while protecting myself at the same time by not claiming to the audio being verified.

Mike Carey said...

I would not, with the way technology is now a days, anyone can go in, record whatever they please, edit the voice a little bit and they could have an "Official Recording" of whatever they please. Its better to be second and right, than first and wrong.

Morgan Kruczek said...

I would not trust the attorney because he could just be selling the tapes for money. Technology is extremely advanced and he could have made that recording himself on his own computer. I don't think the tape should ever be broadcasted, until the tape is verified that it is real.

Emily Pentz said...

I don't think it should be aired without being verified, even if there is a disclaimer. People are going to form opinions and arguments based on the audio whether it's proved to be real or not and it will probably be referenced in the future. With a case this sensitive and with the tapes coming out so long after the fact there is a high chance they are fake. If the news outlet knows there is a chance it's not real they should not broadcast it.

Jenny Kerrigan said...

CNN shouldn't have broadcasted it. Situations like these are the reason people don't trust the media. If it comes out that the audio is fake and CNN aired it without verification they will be discredited but it will also impact public opinion on other news networks and journalism as a whole.

Stephanie Youngblood said...

It is important in such a case such as this to consider where the information is coming from. Trusting the attorney, who only has his clients' interests in mind, is taking a huge risk. However, Ferguson and Michael Brown are one of the leading stories currently and any information is going to be gobbled up by the public. If the attorney had not gotten CNN to air the audio, it could have (and probably would have) been put online, in a podcast, on YouTube, or any other number public forums. False information is released on many sensitive issues, including this one, every day on Twitter, YouTube, and random websites that people have never even heard of, but it still spreads like a forest fire over the internet. However, presenting information as you gain it is incredibly important to a news station such as CNN. In order to be the best you have to be the first, and while coming from a biased source, the audio file needs to be heard if it is real. Therefore, I believe that as long as a disclaimer is given, CNN is doing what they are supposed to do. They want to give the most up to date news as possible, and if people choose to ignore the disclaimer that is their own fault. People believe anything these days no matter where they read it, hear it, or see it. If it actively has a disclaimer, it is taking more caution than most media outlets.

Erica Watkins said...

I personally wouldn't trust the attorney. CNN shouldn't have even had to think twice on whether or not to air it. This is a perfect example of why exactly some people don't entirely trust what the media and news is providing to its viewers. Obviously, the medias job is to provide its viewers with what exactly is going on, and in this case, its new evidence on the Michael Brown case, but since its all anyone wants to hear/talk about it, the audio could have just been created on someones computer for publicity, money, etc. I think it was a rookie move on CNN's part to air such explicit, unverified information, especially when it is dealing with a huge controversy like this specific case.

Vince Bellino said...

I don't believe that CNN should have aired the audio. If they could not confirm that it was from that moment, then there is the possibility that it is doctored or footage from a different time, which would be misleading to the public. In such a charged case, the public deserves more than ever only the facts that are verified and there is no verification here. If the audio was wrong, a serious issue will arise because it undermines not only CNN's credibility but the credibility of all journalists.

Alexandra Angela said...

Absolutely not. Everything can be altered these days, for example one viral videos of "McNugget Rampage" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LTI_Y_TrFo) shows a video with a dubbed audio, which people thought were the real audio. CNN is a world-renowned news source, and it needs to uphold their standards and responsibility to give quality and verified news to its audience.

Maryvic Perez said...

Everyone keeps saying that they would not show the clip, nor trust the attorney. I completely understand this point of view, due to the fact that it could be fake. I would not trust the attorney either,but I would still allow the information to be aired. A Journalists job is to inform the viewer,and this was a story that was of many peoples interest/concern. I would firstly make clear that it has not been proven to be true, then just as the clip compare the publics opinion (those who witnessed it), what the experts say, the wounds, and even what the officer himself alleged.

Faissal Darwish said...

Taking into account Kovach and Rosenstiel's principle that "journalism is a discipline of verification," I do not believe CNN should have exposed this audio to the public as this information is not reliable enough. To expand, the information came from one source only: the attorney. It doesn't matter whether or not the attorney was presenting trustworthy information, CNN should have known it needed to verify the information with at least one more source. Thus, the information was clearly unsubstantially verified to be considered truthful.

That said, I think CNN handled the situation unethically, and probably even thought more about the business side of journalism. To elaborate, Michael Brown's death was one of the biggest stories of the summer, and people wanted to learn more and more about how he was shot to death. Therefore, I believe CNN took advantage of peoples' "awareness instinct" and revealed any information they received in order to allure the audience into watching their channel, and hence helping them gain more profits.

Dan O'Neill said...

No, I would not trust the attorney. Regardless of the situation, I would not fully trust the attorney, until certain info about the tape itself had actually been verified from another source that wasn't him. But, if we were take into the situation, it makes sense that some would trust the attorney, mostly because this was, and still, a hot button topic that everybody wanted to throw their own two cents in.

If it was up to me to broadcast the audio tape, I would choose not to. Reason being is because I don't know if the tape's the actual moments of Michael Brown's death, or if it's just a piece of audio that somebody smartly polished together to make it seem as such. Until I get the verification from somebody else who says it is what it is, then no, I will choose not to.

First of all, you shouldn't broadcast it, regardless of if you want ratings or not. Simply put, if you can't wholly verify it and let the audience know that, then there's no reason to be reporting on it. It could, after all, be fake news and why would you want to undermine your journalistic integrity by posting something that may not be true to begin with? Just seems silly and pretty desperate to me.