Check out this multimedia piece consisting of a video and accompanying written article by the New York Times “The War Zone at Mile 26: There are so Many People Without Legs” for a little bit of a different look on the horrific tragedy that occurred yesterday; the bombings at the Boston marathon, that have at this point in time taken three lives and injured over 150.
I have had multiple news stations on my television all day, and have seen a disgusting amount of today’s horrific events, but this video was particularly sticking to me.
I think what really lured me in about this multimedia piece, especially the video aspect, was the raw and honest emotion displayed in the video. The editor of this video was extremely smart and definitely knew what he was doing; he pulled out some very strong, powerful, real human quotes. What I really found effective about this video was how real it felt. I assume the interviews in this video were taken almost immediately after the attack, because almost everyone in this video seems extremely shaken and flustered. Almost everyone interviewed was crying, teary eyed, or extremely visually distraught. The video was raw and honest, while managing to avoid showing the gore many other videos and photos have.
While I hate the idea of exploiting vulnerable people’s emotions immediately after witnessing such a tragedy, and would usually criticize a video like this, I recognize that the interviews taken for this video are effective and can really help the public understand the pain that those affected are going through. I think that while those being interviewed were emotional those emotions were truly necessary to get across the severity of the situation. The video captured people processing what they had just seen, and while some parts were hard to watch, such as the mother in the family that was continually shown, crying, it successfully displayed people personally affected while remaining tasteful. I have seen a lot of extremely brutal images today, which has made me question what is and what is not okay to show on television. There has been a cycle of photos of people with amputated legs or covered in blood across most news outlets, such as this photo slideshow by CNN, and I can only hope parents are keeping their children away from these programs as I feel they could be very scarring. News outlets technically have every right to show such graphic images, and there are some positive aspects of showing images like these; giving the public a brutally honest view of what has happened, and allowing themselves to be uncensored and raw. However, while they have every right to show these images we must question if that is ethically okay, and in my opinion some news outlets need to view the situation from a more personal side and use better judgment in covering horrific breaking news stories with visuals such as photos or videos.
While I found the video very effective I see it’s main function as being a lead into the written news story which I found extremely helpful, powerful, and effective. Of the many stories I have read between yesterday and this morning I feel the Times should be proud of this one. The article is interesting, personal, and relatable by using real people’s stories from the day to explain what has happened. The stories and quotes from runners and bystanders are accompanied by commentary by the author, giving a very clear, concise, and understandable summary of the days events. I really like how he lets the quotes do most of the talking in this news piece, as I feel that in a situation like this people really want to hear from the real people of Boston who were there to experience a day of joy and ended up in the midst of a tragedy. The article contains many graphic descriptions of the scene and quotes like “‘when the bodies landed around me I thought: Am I burning?’” While these types of descriptions are hard to read, I think the Times made a tasteful decision by deciding to put the goriness and horrific injuries in words in the article as opposed to showing them in visuals through the video. In my opinion that was the most effective way to explain that horrible side of the story to the public; we can assume that those able to read a NYT article are mature enough to hear about the gore and disgust of what happened, and can understand the severity of it from what they read.