Friday, November 09, 2018

On Mass Shootings And Wall-To-Wall News Coverage

     There's an institutional tropism in news organizations to want lurid news and to linger over it when it happens. I'm not sure there's any conscious individual intent past the cynical awareness that "If it bleeds, it leads." And this unacknowledged, unrecognized hunger may be a far worse problem than deliberate malice could ever be.

     It took about eight hours from the first shot fired until we knew the California mass-murderer's middle name and a thumbnail biography had been promulgated.  Don't think the next frustrated, unhinged, attention-seeking or otherwise borderline types pondering the fame that comes from causing grievous harm to large numbers of people weren't taking note.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Right! Gavin DeBecker addresses this in 'Gift of Fear' and gives recommendations as to how the press and police should manage the reporting.

"Reporter: Would you describe the man as a loner? Federal agent: More of a loser, actually. Reporter: Did he put up any resistance when taken into custody? Federal agent: No, we found him hiding in the bathroom—in the clothes hamper.
Reporter: Could he have succeeded in the assassination? Federal agent: I doubt it very much. He’s never succeeded at anything else."... I propose that we don’t show the bullets on the bureau in the seedy hotel room; show instead the dirty underwear and socks on the bathroom floor..Federal agent: His name is Theodore Smith, but he was known as Chubby Ted...Our culture presents many role models, but few get as much hoopla and glory as the assassin. Those who have succeeded (and even some of those who failed) are among the most famous people in American lore"

maybe "Ian D. long known as 'D. short' by his marine platoon due to his exceptionally small genitalia was found dead after the shooting stinking of feces lying flaccidly in soiled underwear...