I trace the moment I became disgusted with sensationalist news to 9/11, when CNN ran a close-up shot of people hurling their bodies out of the windows of the towers before they completely collapsed. Their free-fall to the jagged stones of concrete below is something I will never be able to erase. If I'd been warned, I would have looked away; I did not need to store that image for instant recall, nor can I see how it added to the reporting of the atrocity in any way.
The Digital Age makes video so accessible that I rarely hear anyone talking about the appropriateness of screening a shot before considering airing it. On iphones, digital cameras, flips, and laptops, cameras are ubiquitous. The 24-hour news cycle makes the eyewitness account imperative, since it ostensibly keeps viewers from switching to another channel to get a summary, rather than an up-close-and-personal view, of the story. But what's lost in the fight to be first? Sure, it's the verifiability of the story, but it's also the respect of the subjects and the subjects' families being filmed, not to mention that of the viewers.