In light of recent horrific tragedies, I can’t help but write something. First, let be clear: I am in no way attempting to marginalize the severity of the actions carried out by a man on a shooting spree, let alone in an elementary school. This isn’t a normal thing for me to post, but I felt the need to put something down. To at least write it up here, allowing a collection of thoughts.
This is about the news. Let us not blame 24 hour news cycles, or 9/11, or a growing partisanship in politics on how news coverage is shaped – I’m not going to point fingers at for-profit news coverage either but there are issues. Serious issues on the morality of a story.
To harp on images of mothers and fathers breaking in a school parking lot, to replay old tapes of that poor high school student being dragged from the second floor window in Columbine, to plop a child under the harsh lens of a camera to explain how his teacher saved his life, or to play a father’s weeping press conference over like a sport’s replay film is vile. Plain and simple. When did death become a part of the american public narrative? Why can we not be notified as a bulletin instead of force-fed reels of aerial shots and slow motion photo pans? Why must we poke the fresh wounds of a community to see them squirm, tear up, shake and pause?
The shooting in Connecticut was like a broadcast rating analyst’s wet dream. Children in harms way, a mad gun man, a small affluent white town, within driving range of Manhattan, and all on a Friday – because then it could be poured into the news feeds all weekend as if we’re ducks at a Foie-gras factory. Enough is enough.
Stations attempts to find blame in mental health or gun control laws, but never reflects against their over-coverage of over-seas island retreat killings, mall shootings, and playing a highlight show on how you aren’t safe anywhere in the world, all while anxiety medicine rolls seconds after saying how this could have happened anywhere. I’m not placing blame solely on them – but stirring the pot surely isn’t helping. There are of course surreal moments when it’s mentioned; strange meta-discussions on how media plays their part, then it’s back to a 3D schematic of the building with a step-by-step on the rampage.
It’s sad. All of it. There is a lot to be down about, from all sides: from feeling grief and fear for the families, children, and teachers – but also the idea of the news ship landing square in town, dropping us there in the most vulnerable time in their life. Despicable.
Let’s try to move away from slide shows and splashing the anti-hero’s face, let’s get the news and grieve in our own way – in private.