Over the past few weeks, we have been receiving a number of letters and inquires over some of our editorial content we have been posting with our weekly issues. Many, if not all, had to deal with two very obvious elements.
The two that we’ll address is why we didn’t necessarily comment upon the aspects of the current health crisis a.k.a COVIG-19, as well as the issues of race, especially with some of the events that’s been taking place in late-May and much of June.
Although the letters we have received states much of the same aspects only worded differently, we will attempt to answer these two issues with this blanket reply.
Let us mention by stating that we are a news service that reports upon the multimedia, as well as creating commentary of those concerns by my own point of view. (You decide if you wish to accept them for how they exist–within reason of course!) And many of these aspects are indeed important and should be addressed and not ignored.
It is true that multimedia did play a part in both concerns. For the COVIG-19 part, there had been a lot of ups and downs noted from a spike of TV viewership to a drop of going out for entertainment purposes. Theaters were shut down as both live stage performances and as moving picture houses. Habits of this participating public had been totally altered. People have been seeing each other through applications that was somewhat unknown by the start of this year, and had now been noted as a verb. (“We’re going to Zoom our happy hour gathering!”) And those that could not work from home, viewing video, and even creating content, kept people busy from getting out from their gourds.
As to the event leading up to the issues involving a death of a Black/African-American in the hands of a police force? Well, media did play a role in that event, and even brings that issue out in its open range.
For starters, the entire event in question was video captured through various sources, from security cameras that were affixed on nearby buildings and posts, as well as from individuals that had smartphones that had the ability of capturing moving imagery, often in high definition that’s been deemed suitable as “broadcast quality” imagery.
If it wasn’t for these concepts that are now available, what did take place would have been only limited to eyewitnesses that were there at the scene as well as for any police reports that would have been filed. And both of those results would have been based upon a “he-said-she-said” guideline of reporting the facts and the fictions.
And that brings to another element we’ll note here. Thanks to these smartphones that appears that everybody seems to have at their disposal, it’s quite possible to capture both still and moving imagery of what’s occurring in front of the phone holder. Generally, use of this spontaneity is based on practical and pleasant reasons, such as taking pictures of a building site for record keeping, or taking imagery of your pals acting a bit goofy for amusement sake. And when a tragic event occurs, one holds the natural sense of capturing that moment for the same reasons, although there is no “fun” aspect connected to speak of.
Once upon a time, if one became an eye witness of some occurrence that was of a tragic nature, it would never been seen by anyone who was not there. Unless one happened to have a camera device on their person when the whole thing made its mark, it was possible to transcribe the event. But the chances of that occurring would have been near zero. It’s just based on fate and being present at the right place and the right time.
This form of capturing an event as it took place once occurred to yours truly! When I was working for a local cable TV system based in suburban Minneapolis, I was with my video equipment shooting static shots of a pedestrian bridge that was located next to a junior high school. The shots were made for a local news report for the city to place more of these bridges near schools that were along any major streets that held a lot of traffic. I was there around 3:30 that afternoon when school was letting out. A lot of the students were scattered about as school was over for the day, and the shots of the kids crossing the bridge showed the importance of such bridges.
While I was in front of the school, a few police sirens were heard coming in from a distance. Then a squad car came racing in to the school’s front driveway, sirens wailing with flashing lights and all. I continued to tape this squad car as it pulled in front of the main entrance, when two officers were seen exiting the car and getting in to the building.
A few moments later, I saw the offices escorting out a middle aged man that was handcuffed at his back. The offices then proceeded to place the man into the squad car. He then began to struggle with the offices, yelling at them. Then the offices placed him face down at the front hood of the squad car, holding him down while the man continued to yell. They held him down for a few moments until he eventually calmed himself down.
While this was all going on, a small group of kids were gathering near the squad car attempting to see what was going on. The cops didn’t appear to shoo the kids away. They were still holding this man face down as he hovered over the hood of the squad car still cuffed. Although the kids were keeping their distance away, some appeared to be what one could call as placing themselves in a too-close-for-comfort distance. But these were a bunch of kids middle school aged, not being as hip to danger as kids of this same age would know about in today’s landscape.
And what did occur on that day? It seems that the man was going through a bitter divorce case that involved the custody of his thirteen year old daughter. He tried to enter the school with the attempt to grab his daughter using some force. He encountered a school official that would not allow him to grab his kid right there. A scuffle then occurred. Somebody called the police. They arrived and apprehended the man. The daughter, who later because aware of this episode, wasn’t harmed.
The above play-by-play was using the facts gathered from a local news article that appeared the next day in a community newspaper.
Although that episode didn’t create a major cause of concern, it was my placement of being there while I had a video camera. I was able to capture every moment while I was near to be in the outdoor space while keeping my distance. (I was on the front sidewalk where much of the close ups shot were provided through a zoom lens that was on the camera device I was using.)
For the record, this event occurred in 1983, some thirty-seven year ago. This event was recorded on VHS videotape. The only other portable technology that was made available at the time to anyone else would have been a portable radio, or perhaps a “walkman”-type cassette player. Phones were still limited as hard lines verses wireless, and TV was receive only. But if this event occurred in today’s landscape, just about every student present would have been able to capture still and moving imagery of this event with their phones while knowing that they would have been kept far away! Unless the local SWAT teams didn’t keep everyone away in the first place!
So with all of these things being said and done, please remember that we can’t address every single issue that may be deemed as important by the public at large! And also remember there are far too many places in cyberspace that will address those issues far better (or worse) that we could ever muster up! We are not the only media game in town, and we knew these facts since we began nearly a quarter century before!
PS…For many years, that innocent video recording was once thought of as a forgotten and possibly erased tape as the news story I was working on was later killed by our managing editor on duty. A few years ago when I was going through my archive of videotapes, I discovered the master tape as it was incorrectly labeled, thinking the tape had some other content recorded. Although now the footage remains in my archive, it has never been shown in any public setting nor was it ever uploaded in any public media portal. (i.e. YouTube, etc.) Although there are no immediate plans to release this footage at this time even though too many years have passed for the subjects depicted could protect themselves legally, this footage may soon become available for reference and academic purposes.
Until then, stay tuned…..!
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