The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

FOX 32 Defends Airing Albert Beating Video

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Oct 22, 2009 8:20PM

Still taken from Fox 32 video

A few weeks ago, Fox 32 made waves by making available the video of a brawl that killed student Derrion Albert, which was captured on cell phone by a witness. This week, Fox 32 VP/News Director Carol Fowler addressed the issue of the video, purchased for $250, including the process behind the decisions to purchase and air the video.

News people are as cynical as they come. Yet for many in this newsroom, the video was too painful to watch. It was raw and graphic. For that reason, there was no question that the action was real. The much tougher discussion was whether we should air it.

The photographer’s motives were suspect. Instead of coming to direct aid of Albert or even calling 911, he shot video at shockingly close range, without apparent regard for Albert’s life or for his own, for that matter. The video, however, backed up his story. He said he had picked up his sister from school, and the first part of the video is, indeed, shot from behind the windshield of a moving car.

He told Hill that he grabbed his camera and starting recording because the fight was, sadly, not that unusual. He wanted to document the violence his sister and others had to endure just to walk to and from school.

It's an intriguing read, detailing how the station cooperated with police, allowing them to use the tape to identify suspects and advance their investigation before moving forward with airing the tape. Fowler claims the video has been viewed almost a half million times and cites the national (and even international) attention the story has garnered for the city's battle to curb youth violence as justification. Indeed, without the visual evidence, the odds we're still talking about Albert's murder weeks later are slim.