“We shouldn’t really be doing this, I suppose really,” said Sky News reporter Colin Brazier as he inventoried the contents of a piece of luggage strewn about the MH17 debris field on a weekend broadcast.
Right about that: Twitter scolded him for crossing all kinds of journalistic lines. Apologies flowed, and Brazier today explains the whole thing in a piece for the Guardian. A key section:
Certainly it was a serious error of judgment. I acknowledged that and so did Sky. My bosses issued an apology by tea-time. They were supportive and keen to stress that they understood the context of the gaffe.
And that context is a complete lack of boundaries, as Brazier notes: “There are no police to unspool tape and cordon-off sensitive areas. There are roadblocks manned by sullen-looking teenagers cradling AK-47s, but no meaningful law and order. It is a warzone and the men in charge carry guns and grudges. So I, and many others, were allowed to walk around the crash site at will.”
It’s often those very authorities that journalists are fighting at disaster scenes. Perhaps we need them, too.