Live video of man's self-immolation outside court: How news organisations handled the coverage - Hindustan Times
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Live video of man's self-immolation outside court: How news organisations handled the coverage

ByAditi Srivastava
Apr 20, 2024 05:41 AM IST

Florida man in critical condition after setting himself on fire outside Manhattan courthouse during Trump trial.

Maxwell Azzarello, a Florida resident, is currently in critical condition at a burn unit at Cornell University after setting himself on fire outside a Manhattan courthouse on April 19. A self-proclaimed "investigative researcher," Azzarello's distressing act was captured by video cameras stationed outside the courthouse where former President Donald Trump is on trial. The footage revealed the gruesome scene as authorities rushed to his aid in the aftermath of the incident.

SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB A person, who police identified as Max Azzarello of St. Augustine, Florida, is covered in flames outside the courthouse where former U.S. President Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial is underway, in New York, U.S., April 19, 2024. Fred Gates/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES(Via REUTERS)
SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB A person, who police identified as Max Azzarello of St. Augustine, Florida, is covered in flames outside the courthouse where former U.S. President Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial is underway, in New York, U.S., April 19, 2024. Fred Gates/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES(Via REUTERS)

News networks wrestle with live clips of courthouse self-immolation

Also read: Who is Maxwell Azzarello? The ‘homeless’ man who self-immolates outside Donald Trump's hush-money trial

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A CNN camera was rolling at the moment the incident occurred outside the courthouse where multiple news channels had gathered to cover Trump's trial. The man was distributing flyers before dousing himself in gasoline and setting himself on fire. He is currently in critical condition. This incident put networks under pressure and ethical dilemmas to act quickly and determine which content is ‘too disturbing’ for their users to view.

"Look at this," CNN anchor Laura Coates was caught reacting to the incident in real-time. Tapping a finger on her ear as the cameras panned towards the man, whose body was on fire less than half a mile away, she said, “We have a man who has set fire to himself, our cameras are turning right now, and a man has now lit himself on fire outside of the courthouse.”

“You can smell burning flesh,” The camera alternated between Coates and the horrifying incident taking place in the park. Five minutes into the incident, CNN displayed an onscreen message stating, “Caution: Contains Graphic Content.”

How media handled courthouse self-immolation of Maxwell

Fox's cameras captured the moment as reporter Eric Shawn spoke, and then the network cut to a courtroom portrait of Trump in the dock within seconds. “We deeply apologize for what has happened,” the reporter said.

“I could see the outline of his body inside the flames,” MSNBC reporter Yasmin Vossoughian attempted to describe the recent events. The network opted to avoid showing graphic content and focused solely on depicting the smoke. "It was incredibly terrifying to witness. As he fell to the ground, his knees made contact first," she added.

The AP released a live video feed of the incident, which was recorded outside the courthouse and uploaded to YouTube. Because of the graphic nature of the footage, the AP took the original live feed off their social media and ended up replacing it with a new one. (inputs from AP)

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