Witnesses Who Filmed Tony Scott’s Deadly Bridge Jump Are Trying to Cash In

These days, so many people have a video camera on hand via their cell phones that it would be difficult to sneeze without someone, somewhere, having film of it.  What I remember most from the story about the JetBlue pilot who had a ranting meltdown was all of the passengers holding up their handheld devices to capture the scene on camera. When a homeless man with a knife was shot multiple times in Times Square recently, some people didn't flee the dangerous scene -- they chased after it, cell phone cameras held aloft. And the tragic bridge jumping suicide of famed director Tony Scott is no exception. Reports say several witnesses videotaped the tragedy and tried to sell the footage.


Many who saw the director's jump say at first they thought Scott was some kind of sports daredevil, so it's understandable that they would whip out their iPhones. But once they realized it was a man who killed himself, they then went and tried to sell the video. This is where I have some issues.

If a professional photographer or a reporter had happened to capture the scene and then sold the footage, no one would really think twice about it (though I'd be surprised if media organizations bought any of the video). But regular people capturing this chilling scene and then trying to sell it? Okay, there's nothing illegal about it. Is it immoral? Maybe not. But it sure is crass and tasteless.

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, I went to an office building across from the World Trade Center and watched as the Twin Towers burned and collapsed. I had grabbed my camera before I left my house (at the time I didn't know it was a terrorist attack). Yet, as I watched the Towers burn, and knew what I was watching, I couldn't bring myself to take any photos.

Later, I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge and into a scene of mass chaos in lower Manhattan. I still had my camera with me. But something about taking a photo of a terrified person covered in ash and fleeing the attack made my soul cringe. I just couldn't do it. To take a photo would feel like a second violation of those poor people in the building that day.

With the advent of camera cell phones, there is no doubt that some of the most newsworthy photos and videos of the future will be taken by amateurs. And that's not always wrong. But when it comes to profiting off a tragic death like that of Tony Scott's, I hope media organizations say, "No way."

Would you take pictures of a man jumping to his death? Would you sell them?


Image via MNSC/Flickr

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