ITV documentary crew confusing games with reality, Arma 2 for IRA

Remember that study that was widely reported a few weeks back as claiming that gamers were unable to distinguish fantasy for reality? Perhaps the researchers should instead have focused on documentary production crews, which could well prove a more fertile ground for delusion.

It seems that while working on a recent documentary about Libyan leader Gaddhaffi’s support for the IRA, a lucky researcher stumbled across a piece of footage showing a helicopter being shot down by smuggled shoulder-launched missiles. Perfect!

Unfortunately for the now surely-unemployed peon, the video was not an IRA training film as claimed, but instead footage captured by a gamer playing warfare simulation Arma 2.

I’ll just let that sit there for a while, while you brood on that. A supposedly balanced, accurate and highly professional documentary produced by one of the biggest television channels in Britain, watched every day by millions of people, broadcast a piece of film that was a complete fabrication from start to finish.

Besides being completely absurd, and something that should have been picked up on by the barest minimum of fact checking or due diligence, I can’t think of a better argument to demand that documentary makers be held to the same standards as print and online journalists. The documentaries that often reach more people than even the most-widely read newspaper are often produced by people unacquainted with the way we conduct ourselves — things like honesty, probity and the painstaking sourcing of facts that goes into true reportage.

If we are willing to let this situation continue, where docs are fronted by celebrities and designed to push a tedious party line, produced by media people with no journalistic training, we cannot but be lied to by our televisions.

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