When bystanders at a crash scene go beyond gawker to posting to YouTube

By Paula Wethington

Amateur photos and video, from breaking news scenes were published and broadcast by the news media long before CNN invented the catch phrase of “iReport” and others adopted the more stately phrase of “citizen journalism.”

That being said, I think it’s worth pondering what a Michigan State Police trooper told the Detroit News as he related what it was like to work at the scene of a horrific accident on I-75 Jan. 31. The scenario was this: A sudden white-out from a snow squall blinded drivers, and resulted in a nearly mile-long chain reaction crash that killed three people and injured many more.

The headline is: Trooper chose which child to save in I-75 crash. Yes, the story involving the children is related in the article and I’m sure our first responder friends can relate.

Now here is the detail I wanted to point out from a social media perspective:

The crash area was soon swarming with EMS units, firefighters, police and tow trucks.

Plus a lot of bystanders intent on filming the scene and then posting it online.

“There were some civilians that were trying to help, but there were others trying to get images up onto YouTube as fast as possible,” said Lt. Mike Shaw, also of the Metro North Post of the Michigan State Police, on Wednesday.

“We have no problems with the main stream media because they all know the drill. But the last thing we want is for someone to see their loved one dead or injured in a vehicle posted on the Internet.”


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