I am willing to accept that the “selfie” is now part of life as we know it. I’m not that old. Yet. As a sign of my acceptance, beginning right now, I am no longer using quotes around the word, selfie. But should the selfie be an accepted practice amongst journalists?
I recently attended a media conference for paralyzed Olympic gold medal swimmer, Amy Van Dyken. She was incredibly sweet and patient with the media as she answered questions about the ATV accident and her life threatening surgery that followed. Van Dyken spent about thirty minutes answering questions despite being strapped onto a gurney in an airport hangar, as we (the media) were given a Q and A opportunity before she was to board a private jet bound for Denver to continue her rehabilitation. As the conference was wrapping up and her handlers indicated it was time to go, I witnessed two reporters stop Amy and snap a selfie. Amy smiled for the camera, as did the reporter, and then she boarded the plane.
My initial reaction? Seriously? This woman just fought for her life for two weeks and agreed to a media conference on a 103 degree day and you really need a selfie with her? Am I just old or this unprofessional and self-serving? I know we now live in a world of tweets and Facebook posts and Instagram photos, and the media is a part of that world too. But as the scene unfolded, it just felt dirty and wrong.
These two reporters are hardly alone. There are multiple selfie offenders out there and you know who you are. “The beaches in Mexico are so beautiful”, “emceeing a charity event in Scottsdale”, “paralyzed vet didn’t get the care he deserves”. The problem with these posts? We don’t actually see the beach, the event, or the vet in the photos. We see a head shot of the reporter and that’s about it.
I believe it was TV news legend and the man once called “the most trusted in America” who said the story is never about you (the reporter). It’s time to heed advice from Walter and at least attempt to bring some level of credibility and respect back to TV journalism.
Please, can we show a little selfie control?