Some Thoughts about Media Coverage of Tragic Events

Working in the media as I do, Its difficult to see so much criticism of the coverage of events like the school shooting on Friday.  Yes we covered it “wall to wall” for several hours and its still a major story today.  It doesn’t mean that the other news stories we had prepared were not important in their own right, but at a time of such and enormous tragic event, people (listeners) want to hear what happened.  They want to try and figure out why it happened.  They’re searching for information and that’s the job of the media.  I don’t personally know where you draw the line and move on to other things when these things occur.  Its hard to determine when to go back to normal programming, because as soon as you do, someone else has just heard about the event and is turning to you for information, and if you don’t give it to them, you lose their confidence as a source of reliable information.  

Some say the media sensationalizes stories to make more money.  But on Friday, the station I work for actually dropped commercials in order to continue bringing updates.

Some say the media encourages shootings like this because with all the coverage, the bad guy’s become “famous” or “infamous” and their names become household names.  But while attention at first was focused on the shooter, who he was, what was his motive etc.. we were not trying to make him into a “household name” as some would accuse.  We were passing along the same information being given out by those investigating the case.  Today, they’re releasing the names of the victims and some of their stories.  In the coming days, they will be the focus as the families deal with the loss and people pay their respects.  I can only hope that that attention will help in the grieving process for the nation and for the families more directly involved.

While I can say most of the coverage we provided on Friday was necessary, I admit that I don’t really like the idea of photos and video of the grieving parents or the frightened children.  I didn’t care for the on camera interviews with kids who had escaped the shooting, complete with their parents standing there with them.  Kids who have been through this sort of ordeal should be with their parents talking, or with counselors  or ministers… someone who can help them, not a TV camera.  

These are just a few thoughts that came to mind this morning while going through my day, hearing and watching news coverage and seeing hundreds of facebook posts and tweets.

I think that now I will take my own advice and back off the listening and watching and reading for awhile and do some praying instead.

*Note:  The opinions reflected in this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer…


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