An idling SUV sits parked against the median. Its lights go out. The dark car would be virtually invisible, if not for the faint glow of moonlight.
On the other side of the highway, a man peers through his viewfinder, aiming his lens at the sedan. He looks around, knowing that disaster is imminent.
As the horde of traffic whizzes by, one car clips the fender, smashing the right taillight. Seconds feel like hours, as speeding vehicles narrowly evade a collision.
But the highway is busy. After all, this is LA. It’s only a matter of time.
Suddenly, a truck plows into it, launching the vehicle 20 feet forward. The idling SUV is engulfed in a ball of flames.
Now the cameraman gets out.
He sprints across the highway, using a fire extinguisher to break passenger side window. He races to pull the passenger out of the burning car and waits for help to arrive.
This is just another night in downtown Los Angeles on Netflix’s Shot in the Dark. The reality series follows men from three freelance photojournalism companies, called “stringers”, who shoot and sell footage to news networks.
Their primary goal is to be the first on the scene of breaking news events, capturing the most compelling shots possible. They troll the police scanner all through the night, waiting for car accidents, crime scenes, fires — anything that sells.
The ethics within this industry are obviously quite hazy. After all, these people are indirectly profiting from tragedies.
The Jake Gyllenhaal film Nightcrawler is, in fact, the perfect primer for this show, raising the same ethical concerns that viewers will wrestle with throughout.
Nowadays these concerns are more important than ever. We live in a world where people would rather pull out their iPhones to capture a ‘viral video’ than try to help stop a situation.
So, are they bad people, or are they journalists just doing their job? Or, are they simply a product of the ultra-competitive breaking news industry?
Watch Shot in the Dark and decide for yourself.