‘At no time should you endanger yourself’: BBC’s ‘citizen journalism’ disclaimer and war zones
The BBC’s standard plea for information on this article about the crisis in Georgia is bothering me.
On the BBC website, we learn that ‘violence has flared [in Gori]’, ‘there are reports of cars being taken from residents at gunpoint’, and ‘there is looting going on involving South Ossetian separatists’.
Similarly, The Guardian’s latest article says:
Villages in Georgia were being burned and looted as Russian tanks followed by “irregulars” advanced from the breakaway province of South Ossetia, eyewitnesses said today.
“People are fleeing, there is a mood of absolute panic. The idea there is a ceasefire is ridiculous,” Luke Harding, the Guardian’s correspondent, said.
Now the BBC is interested in finding out more about what’s happening on the ground. Nothing wrong with that. But the decision to use a standard disclaimer in their appeal for information just sounds ridiculous when applied to a war zone:
“Are you in one of the affected areas of Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Tell us what is happening where you are using the form below:
Send your pictures to [email protected] or text them to +44 7725 100 100. If you have a large file you can upload here. Read the terms and conditions.
At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.”
I’m sorry, but given the current situation, how exactly is anybody in ‘one of the affected areas’ supposed not to endanger themselves at any time?