As we wrap this current election season, you may have noticed—as we did—that political advertising has become increasingly more volatile. It is very rare to find a candidate’s ad that states what they support. Mostly, these short videos instead argue for what’s wrong with their opponent. This is by no means drawing any partisan lines either. It’s just an observation. We are no longer seeing arguments for who is the best choice for office, but rather, why an opponent is the worst choice.
In this age of name-calling, we are faced with some serious ethical questions as content creators, and it’s not just for political ads. For example, should you take on a project when you don’t agree with the statements being made? Do you have a responsibility to make sure the content is truthful? Are you just “doing your job” or are you going to add fuel to a fire? These are some of the questions you should consider asking yourself. Other issues could carry legal implications that extend to producers, writers, directors and other members of a production team. Although there is a great deal of gray area, this can extend to posting on social media as well.
In previous decades, video production was linked more closely with television news. Journalists were schooled in the ethics and rules for slander. The Associated Press produced their annual style guide which included a Libel Manual to help navigate the dangerous waters. Journalism schools taught propriety, when is it proper to report a story. It seems that as more time passes, these once respected standards are becoming more and more neglected.
Let’s not forget that in our digital world, the deep fakes just keep getting deeper.
Let’s not forget that in our digital world, the deep fakes just keep getting deeper. It is entirely possible to manipulate images and audio in ways that can fool even a seasoned editor. Online, it is easy to come across an image or a piece of video that appears real, but is fake in reality. It’s also possible to come across audio that sounds legitimate, but is a highly edited clip from several sources. We should all remember; just because you read it on the internet, doesn’t mean it’s true. Some people are paid to write the most salacious stories just to get click-throughs on a web page.
So, where do you stand and how do you protect yourself? First, you need to decide what you consider crossing the line. What video project will I not be part of? Have that settled in your mind and be ready to find out those details before you agree to anything. Second, have the courage to stand up for your convictions. That means saying “no” to some projects, regardless of the income. Finally, go back to the old journalist adage: “Always double check your sources.” Do your homework and check it out.
If a picture says a thousand words, how much does 24 fps say? Video storytelling can be a powerful tool that can be used for good or bad. We just have to decide which side we want to be on.