Has the media “objectified” Janay Rice, the woman who was beaten unconscious in an Atlantic City casino’s elevator by her NFL star boyfriend-turned-husband?
At the Poynter Institute, a journalistic think-tank in Florida, Meredith Clark, a media ethicist, disputes the assertion that the video needed to be made public in order to change the culture and response of the NFL.
But Dr. Clark says using the video without her consent “violates our ethical obligation to treat Janay Rice and other survivors of intimate partner violence as people rather than vehicles for social change.”
She also questions whether videos such as this do any real good.
The names of women like Marlene Pinnock, who was repeatedly punched by a California Highway Patrol officer during an arrest, and Jada, the 17-year-old Texas student whose naked, drugged body became the Internet meme #JadaPose come to mind.
Remember them? Their images became public. There was outcry. They’re still waiting for justice.
It’s been 31 days since an unarmed black teen was shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. And to date, despite local, national and international outrage and outcry, no one has been indicted. No one has been arrested. The Ferguson Police Department has yet to announce a change in its policy on use of force.
Some good the video, pictures, ongoing media coverage and prolonged moral outrage surrounding Mike Brown’s death have done. Why should we expect that video of a woman being punched by her partner will effect greater social change?
Objectifying Janay Rice and recasting her experiences to serve the interests of elite white men who make the decision to publish and repost the video, to paraphrase Collins, means subordinating a black woman’s humanity in the name of journalism.
It is a misguided and unethical practice.
“Students learn to question whether their actions will send the victim into further trauma,” she notes, “and if they, as media workers, are acting with compassion.”
She says posting the videos to websites violates her.