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Digital witnessing in conflict zones: the politics of remediation

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Digital witnessing, our engagement with death through local participants’ own recordings of the conflict zone, introduces a new kind of death spectacle in the West: mediatized death [Mortensen, M. (2015). Journalism and eyewitness images. London: Routledge.]. Whilst, like past spectacles, this one also invites its publics to witness death as a moral event that requires a response, mediatized death differs from past spectacles, in that it injects into the practice of witnessing an accentuated sense of doubt: how do we know this is authentic? And, what should we feel towards it? This is because, given the multiple actors filming in conflict zones, digital witnessing breaks with the professional monopoly of the journalist and becomes a complex site of struggle where competing spectacles of death, each with their own interest, vie for visibility. How the status of the death spectacle and our potential engagement with it change under the weight of this new epistemic instability is the focus of this article.
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Keywords: amateur reporting; death spectacle; digital witnessing; ethics; performativity; war and conflict journalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, UK

Publication date: November 2, 2015

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