Digital Footage from Conflict Zones

The politics of authenticity

Authored by: Lilie Chouliaraki

The Routledge Companion to Digital Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138887961
eBook ISBN: 9781315713793
Adobe ISBN:


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Digital witnessing, the visual engagement with distant suffering through mobile media by means of real-time recording, uploading, and sharing, poses new epistemic challenges in the management of the visibility of conflict death in Western media (Mortensen, 2015). These are challenges about the status of death images (are they authentic?), our relationship to them (what should we feel towards them?), and the power relationships within which they are embedded (who dies and how does this matter?). Central to these new challenges is the rise of ‘amateur’ recordings of conflict 1 as a testimonial act—an act of representation that publicizes conflict death from the local eyewitness perspective so as to mobilize emotion and invite a response, be this revenge, outrage, contempt, fear, or empathy (Chouliaraki, 2015). While such testimonial acts were earlier the privilege of journalistic professionals, the rise of ‘amateur’ actors has complicated the remediation of testimonies of death on Western news platforms.

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