Me­dia failed Wu in life and in death

China Daily European Weekly - - Comment - The au­thor is a writer with China Daily. wangy­iqing@chi­

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.


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