Seydi Burciaga is More Than a News Story

Seydi Burciaga is a young woman who died last week in the floods that ravaged Atlanta. Out of the 10 people who died, how is it exactly that I know Burciaga? I know of her because I had the displeasure of hearing her 911 call right before she drowned. How did I hear it? I heard it on the television tabloid news show Inside Edition when I was channel surfing. I suspect that it’s all over the Web; however, I’m not into hearing people take their last breath, so I haven’t checked.

The point is that this tape was allowed to air. You know what they didn’t say about Seydi Burciaga? They did not say that she had just finished her overnight shift at Sam’s Club, where she worked for the past 10 years. She was trying to get home in the pouring rain in her minivan and turned into her cul-de-sac in suburban Atlanta.

Seydi Burciaga was three-tenths of a mile from home, her husband and two young children, when she drowned.

Now, guess what those two young children get to hear? The sound of their mother, who was completely terrified and panicked by the way, before she takes her last breath, compliments of the media that has run amuck.

I cannot believe the lack of news judgment exhibited by Inside Edition and other media outlets that followed. Even the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a newspaper that I read every day, ran the transcript of Seydi’s 911 call to the operator, with the following disclaimer: “Editor’s note: Because of the sensitive nature of the call, has decided not to post the audio of Seydi Burciaga’s conversation with 911. What follows is the complete transcript, obtained from Gwinnett County 911. You can also read our story about the call.”

My question is, if it is that damned sensitive, why post it at all? Really — does hearing someone facing death add any value to anyone’s day? If it does, please get some help. Just exactly how does the sound of a tormented mother qualify as news? I am completely disgusted that this woman’s final moments would be exploited for financial gain, and that no one at any of these “media” outlets spoke up or out against running this story. Was there no one whose conscience called?

Therein lies the problem with media today. The line between what qualifies as news and sensationalism has completely blurred. The use of Seydi Burciaga’s final moments to generate ratings and thus advertising dollars is unconscionable. We have thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan dying to protect our freedom and this is what we do with it? Is this what they’re dying for — the freedom to allow us to exercise poor judgment and bad taste in the name of “quality” programming? (read this article in its entirety)

This story originally appeared in Creative Loafing, where Nsenga serves as cultural critic.


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