Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Media coverage and the Virginia Tech tragedy

Like many people, I was really disappointed to see the mainstream American news last night fill hour after hour of screentime with the image and words of the man who murdered so many earlier this week.

I thought that we all had learned our lesson years ago and would have decided against giving someone all the publicity they craved and more. Yes, we all want to understand the actions of the killer, but how could we lose our focus on the victims in just a day? And how could anyone possibly think that showing those pictures over and over again while they pore over the man’s incoherent ramblings would be of help to anyone except future copycat killers? NBC, to my mind, set a new and remarkably dangerous precedent this week in irresponsible reporting and I’m glad to see some of the victims now refusing to speak to them in response.

I was very glad to see that some media outlets have taken a higher line than NBC, CNN, and others by choosing not to show any of the pictures or footage. If you’re reading this, please take a minute to read this editorial from the Editor-in-chief of CBC News. Definitely read the whole article, but here’s a brief excerpt that I thought says it all:

On its evening newscast, NBC ran several minutes of excerpts, and this video has been rebroadcast by a multitude of other networks. At the CBC, we debated the issue throughout the evening and made the decision that we would not broadcast any video or audio of this bizarre collection. On CBC Television, Radio and, we would report the essence of what the killer was saying, but not do what he so clearly hoped all media would do. To decide otherwise – in our view -would be to risk copycat killings. Speaking personally, I have long admired NBC News and I am sure my admiration of their journalists will endure. But I think their handling of these tapes was a mistake. As I watched them last night, sickened as I’m sure most viewers were, I imagined what kind of impact this broadcast would have on similarly deranged people. In horrific but real ways, this is their 15 seconds of fame. I had this awful and sad feeling that there were parents watching these excerpts on NBC who were unaware they they will lose their children in some future copycat killing triggered by these broadcasts.