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Best Practices for Using Eyewitness Footage

About This Course

The viral "Syrian War" video that was actually filmed on a set in Malta. The elevator surveillance footage of Ray Rice attacking his partner. Social media posts of teenage sex offenders. Videos of executions carried out by terrorist groups.

User-generated content presents new ethical challenges for journalists. Does sharing videos created by extremist organizations aid their goals by provoking fear, or is sharing a necessary part of reporting? Should eyewitnesses be asked permission before their videos are broadcast, or would that hinder the reporting process? How can journalists report on abuse caught on camera without violating the privacy or impacting the security of those seen on video?

This webinar will walk you through ethical challenges posed by eyewitness footage, and provide strategies to assess the risk of using that footage and minimize potential harm to your audience, citizen journalists, and average people caught on camera.

What Will I Learn?

  • Whether to use video of crisis situations sent by your users
  • A checklist to verify the credibility of the video
  • Ethical challenges of sharing the video with your audience
  • How to assess the potential harm of sharing footage
  • Best practices when working with graphic footage, perpetrator videos and unverified media

Who Should Take this Course?

Video reporters, producers and news directors who curate video sent by social media, editors who have to decide on deadline what to publish, and anyone who uses eyewitness footage. Journalism instructors and ethicists will learn how to introduce these issues to their students.

Course Instructor

Madeleine Bair

Madeleine Bair is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker, and an expert on human rights video advocacy, verification of online footage, and the role of citizen video in exposing abuse and bringing about justice. At the international human rights organization, WITNESS, Madeleine’s work is dedicated to advancing the safe and effective use of eyewitness video as a tool for human rights. She led the Webby-nominated Human Rights Channel and is lead author of the organization’s groundbreaking Ethical Guidelines for Using Eyewitness Video in Human Rights.

Before joining WITNESS, Madeleine served as an I.F. Stone Fellow with Human Rights Watch’s multimedia team, where she created videos and podcasts to accompany field reports of researchers. She has traveled the world as a print, radio, and multimedia reporter. Her stories have appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, and Orion, and broadcast on PRI's The World. Her documentary film on a first-generation high school graduate aired on the public television program, POV, as part of its Latino Graduates series.

Madeleine earned a dual MA in Journalism and International Studies from UC Berkeley, and a BA from the University of Chicago.

Frequently Asked Questions

What web browser should I use?

The Open edX platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.