Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shifting Paradigms: VA Tech and the Media

Given the excess of coverage on this topic, I'm going to get right to the point. NBC aired the video that the shooter sent them. They aired quite a bit of it right on national tv. Every other network followed suit. Why? Who knows. It doesn't seem very logical, considering the fact that the mainstream media generally does not cover stories highlighting the darkest sides of human nature. I mean, how many stories have you seen about Dyncorp?

What should have NBC and the other networks have done? I think they should have shown perhaps 10 or 15 seconds of footage and left it at that. They should have posted the rest of it onto their site, and told viewers to go there if they wanted to see more. I think this is how many news stories should be covered. It allows people a greater opportunity to be informed. Those of us who wish to see more have that option. And those of us who don't wish to see more are spared the torment. There's no need to cram this crap down the throats of everyone who turns on the news.

It seems like a no-brainer, till one realizes that the mainstream media doesn't really care about promoting an informed citizenry! Did they assume that showing endless clips of this whackjob would bring them better ratings? (I dont know what's worse, the notion that they'd be that cynical in making such an assumption, or the notion that they'd be correct in making such an assumption.)

I just think the mainstream media is totally missing the boat when it comes to harnessing the power of the web and using it to bring forth better news coverage. It is clear to me that they have no interest in actually covering the news in any rational way. This wreaks of a purely fear-based agenda. In the end, their actions may prove to be even more devastating than those of the killers themselves. One has to wonder what effect this media coverage is having on the potentially dozens of others who are contemplating performing their own random acts of mass violence. Is all this coverage going to make them stop, think, and empathize about the devastation they will bring, or will it make them think only about going for "a new record"? To raise the bar, so to speak? A new high score in a sick and twisted game? What will it mean when the next time this happens and the next shooter makes an even more demented video? Will that one get even more airtime? And if it does, what will that mean? What will that accomplish? And so on... We must see the slippery slope here, and act accordingly. It is during times like these that I understand why the utopian visions of the future often describe a world without televisions...

I never thought I'd be writing something like this on the eighth anniversary of Columbine, considering this technically isn't about Columbine...