WITNESS’ Ethical Guidelines for Using Eyewitness Footage in Human Rights #docnowcommunity

Also shared at the #docnowcommunity meeting in St. Louis: a guide for sharing and using eyewitness footage circulating online.

At the meeting, many of us have had questions about the way videos documenting police violence have been circulating and might be collected by the tool. We have questioned how videos are being used in classrooms, the ways mainstream media participates in a spectacle of black death, whether it helps or hurts. I’ve talked about it here, but others have as well.

This guide frames the debate. It is geared towards journalists but can most certainly be adapted by teachers:

“In June of 2009, the image of Neda Agha-Soltan, whose death on the street in Tehran was caught on video and shared on YouTube, news media, and Twitter, became a rallying cry for Iran’s Green Revolution, and an ethical predicament for millions of viewers who never knew her: What did it mean to witness the last moments of this young woman’s life?

“Six years later, we are still wrestling with that question and many others surrounding the ethics of sharing online videos of abuse. The amount of bystander footage shared online has skyrocketed, becoming a critical aspect of news and human rights reporting. And yet it seems like every day we are faced with a new dilemma concerning the ethics of watching and sharing footage that is often intimate, horrific, or decontextualized.

“For newsrooms, crisis responders, and human rights investigators, traditional protocols and guidelines have not kept up with these new ethical challenges. While codes of ethics instruct us to do no harm, there is little by way of guidance to apply that principle when working with videos that we ourselves did not produce—footage filmed by bystanders, activists, victims, survivors, and sometimes perpetrators of abuse.

“To help fill this gap, we are pleased to announce WITNESS’s Ethical Guidelines for using Eyewitness Videos in Human Rights Reporting and Advocacy.  It draws upon WITNESS’ resources on filming human rights safely and ethically and our work curating videos on The Hub, The Human Rights Channel, and the WITNESS Media Lab, as well as conversations with peers in the fields of journalism and human rights who have been facing similar challenges and addressing them in their own ways….”

Read it all: Announcing WITNESS’ Ethical Guidelines for Using Eyewitness Footage in Human Rights – WITNESS Blog


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