CNN’s Anderson Cooper was filming in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, when he stopped to rescue a young boy who had been injured.
Cooper, who has been in Haiti since it was hit with a 7.0 earthquake last week, was shooting a piece about looters on Tuesday, January 19. According to Anderson Cooper 360’s blog post on the event, the situation quickly escalated to rocks being thrown off of a building. Cooper spots a rock being thrown from a roof of a building, hitting a young boy in the head. He then stops filming and picks the boy up and pulls him to a safer area of the chaos where he hands the boy over to another man on the other side of a barricade.
Cooper has been praised for his quick-thinking actions. Today, he was on The Ellen Degeneres show describing his experiences in Haiti, and she specifically asked him about the boy. Mashable, Gawker, and a dozen other publications have reported on his actions.
The New York Daily News wrote about the situation on Tuesday, mentioning that this is only one of many similar situations. The article also talked about how the spotlight feels a little uncomfortable and “self-serving.”
But Mashable asks a very important question: “Do journalists have a duty to provide aid in life-threatening situations or does that level of emotional engagement impact the independence required for good journalism?”
Some of you might remember a similar situation with photographer Kevin Carter and his photo of a young, starving Sudanese girl being stalked by a vulture. He won many awards including a Pulitzer for the photo. But Carter came under heavy criticism for just photographing – and not helping – the little girl.
“The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering,” said the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times, “might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene.”
We were just talking about the media’s responsibility to help in situations like these in my Journalism Ethics and Issues class with Professor Nick Daniloff. And, like many things we discuss, we decided that it really depends on the situation.