Another Horrific Shooting: What some Media Outlets are doing wrong

Yesterday, I woke up late. Took a cold shower and sat down at my computer to begin my daily routine of stream of consciousness Facebook postings, writing on my blog and reading news from Iraq. I thought it would be like any other lazy day in this post grad period of my life.

Sadly, I was mistaken.

Instead of spending my time musing on traveling to a conflict zone somewhere in the globe, making silly jokes and chatting with good friends, I found myself fixated on coverage of a news station in Roanoke, Virginia and a horrible event that affected two of its news team members.

Yet again in America, we’ve experienced a public shooting in a space traditionally thought safe. Like past incidents in movie theaters and elementary schools, our innocence has been further shattered. In the past, we didn’t think members of the press could be publicly targeted here.

We were wrong, and because of some media outlets, this will probably happen again.

Much like the excessive media coverage surrounding the Columbine tragedy and the resulting infamy earned for Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, websites like Gawker, CNN and Russia Today have enabled the gunman to live on in the blood soaked annals of history by sharing his video.

Some of my peers have disagreed with me on this and that’s fine. But their reasoning is absolutely wrong. In a conversation earlier today on Facebook, a dear friend of mine said that “It happened…..I don’t know why we can’t share the link” and another said that if he “had a sick video” and I asked him for a link he would’ve posted it and that usually the “weird ones do this”.

I love my bros, but here they really don’t understand what I’m saying. By distributing this footage in my personal network, I’d be contributing to the problem. If I share it, 3 more people could see it, they could each share it with 10 more and the chain would go on and on until some nutcase who lives alone or with his mother in his 50’s sees it and decides to one-up the original.

It was Marilyn Manson who wrote that “From Jesse James to Charles Manson, the media, since their inception have turned criminals into folk heroes.” Say what you want about the man, but he’s right. Even today we see the same “If it bleeds, it leads mantra” dotting the 24 hour news landscape and increasingly permeating the online marketplace and even the social sphere.

Unless we stop naming these people and covering their work extensively, these tragic incidents will only continue and get far worse. We’ve already lost the innocence of our schools, churches, public newscasts and movie theaters. How long until nowhere on the planet is a safe place to be?

My thoughts are with the victims today. Though I am not a religious man, Ms. Parker and Mr. Ward will always have a place reserved in my heart. If you’d like to learn more about them, please head over to WDBJ7, Roanoke’s finest station.

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