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Media Coverage of Virginia Tech Shooter

Old 04-19-07, 01:26 PM
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Media Coverage of Virginia Tech Shooter

Over the past two days I have been blitzed by the media coverage of the shooter from the Virginia Tech massacre - and franky, it disturbs me. To be clear, I will NOT be mentioning his name in this post, as he is not worthy of being mentioned ever again. But my concern is with how the media handles these horrible events. Why is he given the ultimate farewell that none of his victims got? The media has been posting the pictures he sent to NBC and have played clips of the videos he sent in during the two hour lull in shootings. My questions to the media:

1) The shooter wanted his hate-filled messages to be heard by the masses. Why are you giving him what he wants?
2) Will you be giving as much coverage to each victim as you have to the shooter? Clearly the 32 victims in this case (and in ALL similar situations) deserve to have their lives honored and remembered MORE than the shooter.
3) Don't you think your method of coverage leads to these types of events? As long as a person knows that his photo, life and maybe videos will be played in his honor after commiting such an act, what is the deterrent? At least I now know what I need to do to get my mug and story plastered everywhere. Unfortunately, so do the real nuts in this world.

I am a firm believer that the most coverage this idiot should have gotten was a mention of his name, age and a thumbnail-sized photo (AT BEST). I don't need to hear his voice, see his videos or photos of himself holding guns. Just what did that accomplish?

The media has to answer for their behavior. I believe they are part of the problem in this world. Negative stories sell - the hell with the rest.
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Old 04-19-07, 01:35 PM
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I believe it's fair to say that the media coverage has been somewhat excessive.

I expected nothing else.

Look what they did with Anna Nicole.
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Old 04-19-07, 01:44 PM
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This is being discussed at length in the general thread about the incident in "other" but I would be happy to see it branched off so as to not detract from other discussions relating to this incident. Here is a snippet of my own participation on the matter:

---------------------
I remember a lot of hesitation about whether anything from the killers would be aired or made public if it was discovered after Columbine.

I agreed with that hesitation back then, but I think a lot has changed in the world and in the media since.

Airing this is no more irresponsible than airing messages and executions from terrorists, which is now common practice. You could (more) easily make arguments against that as well. Such is the world we now live in.

While we are all looking for undestanding in a situation like this, it certainly does glorify his wishes and lends itself to duplication of a similar act (the video package) in future incidents.

You're talking about someone who felt like a "nobody" getting to tell the entire world what's he thinks of it, demonstrating his power, and being moved in status from nothing to mega celebrity with no possible argument or retribution. There are a lot of minds that will empathize with that desire.

-----------------------------

Originally Posted by Goldblum
I worry because of psychopaths now knowing that if you want your "message to be heard," what you must do is (1) kill a whole bunch of people, (2) tape your message and (3) send it to a news outlet. Then everyone will hear your story.

Does it make logical sense to us? Maybe not. But then we're not psychopaths (I hope).
Each of those 3 parts is important. You can't just send your message to a news outlet and get it aired. It requires the killing. Knowing that your message will reach the world may also aid in the justification of such an act in the mind of the wrong person.

The motivation in this incident was not simply dead people. That is clear by the effort put into the release of the media package. The message was an integral part of it. It is the ability to get that message out to the world in such a prolific manner that some are opposed to. A person in similar shoes will likely revel in seeing such a message put on display. It's the sensational nature of it all that is a sensitive point.

Whether that means the videos should be locked up, I'm not entirely certain. But it certainly seems as if these were rushed to the screen to satisfy the 24 hour breaking news mentality, rather than the issue being given genuine consideration, which takes time to process.

Last edited by Th0r S1mpson; 04-19-07 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 04-19-07, 01:45 PM
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Sensationalism is out of control, in my opinion. BUT.. I can't say if this is new or if it's how the news has always been since I've really only been doing the whole news thing for the last few years. It'd be nice to hear some comparisons of now and then if anybody can chime in.
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Old 04-19-07, 01:51 PM
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Let's see. We have:

1. The worst gun massacre in U.S. history.

2. It happens on a college campus (so most of the victims are young and presumably white and attractive.)

3. An overzealous TV news media with little else to cover without having to report real news and 24 hours a day to fill.

In other words, I think the coverage has been less than one might have feared.
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Old 04-19-07, 01:57 PM
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The media wouldn't have the overkill if the people weren't there to lap it up. I'm sure they are monitoring the overnight ratings and will continue what they've been doing until it doesn't pay.
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Old 04-19-07, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by PixyJunket
Sensationalism is out of control, in my opinion. BUT.. I can't say if this is new or if it's how the news has always been since I've really only been doing the whole news thing for the last few years. It'd be nice to hear some comparisons of now and then if anybody can chime in.
In the Roman empire, when there was a school catapulting followed by a leap off the Tarpian Rocks, the scrolls recording details of the suicidal killer were placed in private archives and anyone speaking publicly about them was buried alive, stoned to death, or forced to sit behind a news desk 24 hours a day.
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Old 04-19-07, 02:01 PM
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I think it's unreasonable to expect any news organization to sit on video footage of a mass murderer. And it's obviously working, since all of you have seen it and are talking about it.

I honestly haven't - the only news I've heard about the shootings is from DVD Talk and a little bit of what I read in the paper while waiting in line for takeout the other day. It's easy to avoid the coverage if you aren't interested.
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Old 04-19-07, 02:06 PM
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I feel the most important issue is whether we should try and censor news outlets. Given the fact that it was sent to a news company, means they have it. If they feel that they want to show it, by all means they should.

When we censor news, we end up with less than all the information. I believe we would not be in the Iraq war, if the news companies were showing us the bodies arriving home, and more of the "effects" of the war that they are limited in showing us.

I am NOT in favor of any censorship or "not allowing" this to be shown. Could they show more restraint in showing this? Sure...Not showing it? I think that is more dangerous.
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Old 04-19-07, 02:12 PM
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Censoring news coverage because you think it's tasteless makes about as much sense to me as outlawing 'bad' behavior (i.e., smoking) because you want to quit.

Turn off the TV and put down the fucking cigarette.
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Old 04-19-07, 02:13 PM
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I have found two things to be kinda tasteless in all this media coverage :

1.) Hours after the story first broke, they were already advertising for their "special" shows like "Dateline NBC - Inside The Virginia Tech Massacre" And this was even before they had released the final count on the injured and dead, before they released the info on the killer.

2.) The local NBC in NY was advertising coverage like "see the 11 o'clock coverage of the VT shootings in HD". HD, really. I need to see their coverage in HD. the superbowl is something you advertise being shown in HD. News coverage of a tradgedy. Seems tasteless to use this type of event in commercials to push HD.

The only reason I can see giving a lot of attention to the shooter and what he said and did leading up to this event and even during the event, is to hopefully help people realize people like this guy need help and that warning signs should not be ignored.
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Old 04-19-07, 02:20 PM
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I've definitely been a little pissed off at the media coverage of this. Not really because of the sheer amount of coverage, but what they've been doing lately. There is absolutely no reason to constantly show all the videos and pictures he sent to NBC. The media shouldn't be showing it over and over. They just created 10 more guys like him that are hanging out in their basements right now and now know how they can go down in history. They won't just be another shooter, they can be immortalized. This is sort of like an extreme case of streakers at sports events. Isn't it funny how they stopped showing it on camera as a way to not encourage people to do it...and less people are doing it?

Sure, choosing not to air the videos and pictures won't stop all school shootings or mass killings, but it does add glorification to the situation...it makes killing more attractive to anyone thats staring at the wall thinking about doing it. Its the same with the media always talking about this being the worst school shooting or the biggest massacre, etc...like its some sort of record like the Home Run record. Unfortunately, know theres a guy out there who just bought an extra gun for his rampage so that he can kill 34 instead of 33 and be the new record holder
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Old 04-19-07, 02:40 PM
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I don't know what any of you are talking about, but then again, I watch all of my TV filtered through TiVo.
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Old 04-19-07, 02:48 PM
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There is a price(s) to be paid for having a free press.

Sometimes I think the price is too great.

Then I come to my senses.
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Old 04-19-07, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by wendersfan
Censoring news coverage because you think it's tasteless makes about as much sense to me as outlawing 'bad' behavior
So you think they should show uncensored beheadings then? Or are there limits? It's those limits we are exploring.

I also don't think anyone has suggested that this should be outlawed. It is, indeed, about a judgment call and whether it is responsible journalism. That's not censorship.
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Old 04-19-07, 03:07 PM
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I'm sure there are limits which I feel comfortable being self imposed.
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Old 04-19-07, 03:34 PM
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The news is showing the wrong video.

A few weeks ago, it was reported in the news that a principal and a teacher had been having sex at their school. Some super cool person made the absolutley brilliant move of planting a secret hidden carmera, recording several of their sexual encounters, and then anonymously mailing a DVD of the recordings to a whole bunch of the parents of the students.

That is the video that they should be showing on the news.
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Old 04-19-07, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
I don't know what any of you are talking about, but then again, I watch all of my TV filtered through TiVo.
I'm the same way. Between my Tivo and my iPod, I never have to see or hear anything that I don't want to.
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Old 04-19-07, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by PixyJunket
Sensationalism is out of control, in my opinion. BUT.. I can't say if this is new or if it's how the news has always been since I've really only been doing the whole news thing for the last few years. It'd be nice to hear some comparisons of now and then if anybody can chime in.
Its always been like this, at least since the advent of the cable news channels anyway.

Columbine, Oklahoma City Bombings, 9/11 , Katrina, etc. Any big tragedy gets around the clock coverage.

People like to blame the media, but the fact is ratings are very high during this stuff, people turn on CNN and leave it on to get the latest tidbits. So in reality, they are just delivering content that a lot of people want to see--in other words just doing their jobs.

I don't like the coverage personally, but I don't really fault the media for doing it. The consumers eat this shit up, so they are just delivering what the largest audience wants.
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Old 04-19-07, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Hinkle
Its always been like this, at least since the advent of the cable news channels anyway.

Columbine, Oklahoma City Bombings, 9/11 , Katrina, etc. Any big tragedy gets around the clock coverage.

People like to blame the media, but the fact is ratings are very high during this stuff, people turn on CNN and leave it on to get the latest tidbits. So in reality, they are just delivering content that a lot of people want to see--in other words just doing their jobs.

I don't like the coverage personally, but I don't really fault the media for doing it. The consumers eat this shit up, so they are just delivering what the largest audience wants.
agreed

They're airing it because people want to watch it. This is how news works. This is why I don't watch news. The internet, plus the occasional Daily Show/Colbert mockery of it, is good enough for me.
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Old 04-19-07, 05:07 PM
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I'd rather have the video and pictures presented so people can see for themselves rather than relying on the spin and conjecture (not to mention disinformation) that routinely eminates from the punditocracy.

Yes, it's unsettling, but it's real life. It's not all sunshine and lollipops.
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Old 04-19-07, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by classicman2
There is a price(s) to be paid for having a free press.

Sometimes I think the price is too great.

Then I come to my senses.
My thoughts exactly.
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Old 04-19-07, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
The media wouldn't have the overkill if the people weren't there to lap it up. I'm sure they are monitoring the overnight ratings and will continue what they've been doing until it doesn't pay.
Carbon blobs are very voyeuristic. I thought about that today as I was in the store looking at all the covers of the magazines.
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Old 04-19-07, 06:19 PM
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I'd say that until now, the media coverage of Columbine dwarfed the media coverage of any other school shooting in the 90s. Cho directly referenced Eric and Dylan.

Did he mention Kip Kinkel? Jeffery James Weise? Andrew Golden? Mitchell Johnson? Barry Loukaitis? Evan Ramsey? Andrew Wurst? Charles Andrew Williams? John Jason McLaughlin? why weren't those guys mentioned in the video? perhaps because they weren't given such personal atttention by the media?

I dont' think that airing the videos will mean that the violence will definitely continue, and I don't that supressing the videos will definitely save lives in the future, but I think it's just horrible how much he face has been shown in every form of visual media.
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Old 04-19-07, 06:59 PM
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This will only last until the next story comes along to replace it. Columbine hit a nice lull in news.
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