Media failed Wu in life and in death
actions, and Wu paid with his life for the choice he made, which nevertheless was tragic. But social network platforms, including those livestreaming Wu’s stunts, have to share some of the blame for his death.
Wu had been fined and punished several times for endangering public safety, and the spread of the stunt videos is not a healthy sign. But the livestreaming platforms that aired his videos cared only about the public attention and revenue that Wu’s stunts got them, and therefore “encouraged” him to take the road of no return. The livestreaming platforms’ decisions were not conducive to public order.
What some media outlets have done since Wu’s death is worse. They browsed Wu’s mobile phone and recorded his last, tragic “rooftopping” video and, after interviewing his heartbroken family recently, released the two clips simultaneously in the hope of increasing their ratings by getting high numbers of user clicks.
Facing an outcry from Wu’s family, the media outlets argued that their reporters had copied the mobile phone video in front of the family. The subtext of the media outlets’ excuse is that his family permitted the release of the video. Wu’s family members are simple rural residents who had never met a journalist before, so they didn’t know what the reporters who interviewed them would do with the video.
These media outlets have violated the privacy of this simple rural family and even aggravated their sorrow by releasing the video to the public. And even if Wu’s family didn’t mind the media outlets making the video public, professional ethics — if the media outlets have any — should have prevented them from releasing it. They should also have realized that Wu’s stunt, despite its fail-
An irresponsible pursuit of audiences and profits played a role in the sad demise of misguided young stuntman
ure, could influence others to try such things.
The media should be aware of the influence they wield and the social responsibilities they have to fulfill. If their purpose is just to catch the audiences’ attention and make profits, the harm they cause through such actions will far outweigh the positive social role, if any, that they play.