Mass Violence and the Media

Media Coverage of Connecticut Shooting

Over the past few days following the horrible tragedy in Newtown Connecticut I have found myself becoming increasingly more angry over the "shark-like" behavior of the media. Coverage has been almost constant and the avid, excited look in the eyes of most media people who are covering this event is nothing short of disgusting and disrespectful. Exploiting the grief that this horrific tragedy has brought upon this community is truly unconscionable. As if it's not horrible enough, let's sensationalize it beyond all reason.

Yesterday I happened to catch the beginning of Katie Couric's new talk show only to realize that she was interviewing the parents of one of the victims of this tragedy. People who are obviously still in shock and appeared stunned and surreal were, I'm sure, convinced by Ms. Couric's slick "people" that talking about their pain on national television would honor their lost child and aid in the recovery of the nation. I was appalled and turned off my television.

Newspeople are literally camped out in Newtown Connecticut, laying in wait on the street for any misguided, stunned individual to offer up a gory detail. The nightmare that faces the local authorities in trying to put together the how's and why's of this tragedy must surely be worsened exponentially by trying to perform their jobs in the midst of a media frenzy.

Small children who just witnessed an event that will scar them for life were interviewed within hours of the shooting. Every funeral service for everyone lost is big news, wringing every last ounce of sadness and grief from a community that will never again be the same. No matter, it makes for a good story that many feed on.

Those who are suffering from a mental illness and watching all of this sensational coverage know that perpetrating a horrific tragedy like this will make them heroes by creating yet another frenzy of news reports. The excitement that some of those individuals must be feeling is palpable and one can only imagine how many are, at this very moment, imagining an even more horrific display of violence.

In a few weeks when the newspeople are gone and the next big news event is occupying them, a small town in Connecticut will be left to put the pieces of their lives back together. I'm sure many will regret having shared their pain and that of their children with the world during their time of shock and grief, only adding another bump to the rough road ahead that faces them.

How can we stop it? Ban every television show that continues this relentless pursuit. We provide the impetus for more of this only if we watch. And if we watch, we are just as despicable as those newspeople with a gleam in their eye as they talk about small children who were violently slain. This is not a human interest story, it's a human tragedy. Let us respect the grief and privacy of those who have suffered an unspeakable tragedy. Let us NOT ignite the fire of a mentally ill individual who wants to be the cause of the next big sensational media created drama.


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