THUNDER BAY – Coverage across the news media of the horrible shootings in Newtown Connecticut has been wall to wall on many of the American networks. That is the sad case each time there is a similar act. Sometimes, perhaps it is possible that part of the reasons for these terrible acts come because of that coverage. That is not for a second to suggest that the media should not cover the event, but perhaps the scope and the repetition of the coverage might be at issue.
If you remember back to the attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon in 2001, there came a point where CNN was interviewing experts telling viewers it was time to stop watching the ‘wall to wall coverage’. When a television network is broadcasting that kind of information, it makes one wonder if the network executives actually listen to what is aired.
Each time there is a horrible attack like Virginia Tech, Littleton, and now Newtown, the name of the murderer is broadcast repeatedly. As the media fills the coverage, experts are brought in to try to explain the actions of the shooter. Perhaps what all the attention is doing is fostering in the minds of people who might be out of balance to top the story and do another attack on innocent people?
A policy perhaps, across the media, might be to focus on the victims, and leave the name of the shooter, the pictures of the attacker and any possible ‘claim to fame’ off of the coverage.
It would be hard, at first, and likely there would be some outlets that would still cover the name of the attacker. That could be simply left to media consumers to take action, in the form of changing the channel, or contacting the media outlet and sharing their disgust at not focusing more on the victims and their families.
Solving the issue of a deranged attacker harming innocent victims will never be as easy as some might like it to be. Over the coming days, the debate will likely focus on gun control as the solution. Experts from all sides will debate that issue, and offer opinions.
Right now perhaps humanity should rule the roost, and for the media taking a look at their policies in coverage of such tragedies should be part of that debate.
NetNewsledger.com has set a policy in our coverage of mass shootings to not name the shooter. We feel that is a step toward, and in our case as a media outlet in Northwestern Ontario perhaps a small step compared to what major media could do, a more pro-active means of covering such tragedies.
Those who do such acts are societal deviants who deserve only to have their victims remembers, the names of the shooter should be relegated to the dust-bin of history.
Content and News Director