Global B.C. chose to air a blurred version of the video. Global B.C. news director Jill Krop says it was a difficult decision, and one that was met with shock, anger, and even a petition on Change.org, calling for her immediate resignation. The fallout from Global’s broadcast prompted Krop to defend her decision on CKNW, an affiliated Vancouver-based radio station.
In the interview, Krop explains that she learned about the video at 4:45 p.m., only hours after the incident and 15 minutes before Global B.C.’s 5 p.m. newscast—too soon to broadcast, Krop decided, and too early in the day. For the 6 p.m. newscast, Krop had reporter Rumina Daya describe the stabbing incident, but still refrained from airing the video. By the 11 p.m. newscast, Krop felt enough time had passed, knew the families of the girls were informed of the event, and was confident she was broadcasting to an adult audience. She decided to air the video with an explicit warning preceding it. All of the violence was blurred. The six-second video is a bird’s eye view of the attack. Much of the violence itself is difficult to distinguish, but the victim’s piercing scream is clearly audible.
LISTEN: Jill Krop spoke with CKNW about her decision to air the video.
“This story,” Krop says during her interview with CKNW, “is probably a bigger story about mental health, about safety, about our children.”
Krop compares the video to the photograph of Alan Kurdi, the young Syrian toddler who washed up on the Turkish coast after drowning. The photo became a catalyst and a symbol of the human fallout of a rapidly failing state. Could the Abbotsford video be a catalyst for school safety? Moreover, Krop says, her teenage daughter had already seen the video on Snapchat. Krop’s audience could see it whether she broadcast it or not.
Mark Bulgutch, an instructor at the Ryerson School of Journalism and former CBC senior producer, says the competitive nature of the broadcast business can have an influence on newsroom editorial decisions.
Decision-makers in the CBC Vancouver newsroom also had to grapple with the difficult question, and sought to answer it in a way that was consistent with their values. Burgess says the CBC, as a public broadcaster, tries to distinguish itself from commercial media by offering context and analysis. “Especially in the Vancouver newsroom,” she says, “we have long said we don’t need to compete on flashing lights and crime scene tape.”
NEXT: 2. Sensationalism or public interest? The ethical question