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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Frank Howe A Song or Two for Colorado's Victims (102* d) RE: A Song or Two for Colorado's Victims 23 Apr 99

At the risk of both preaching to the choir and simultaneously annoying those who disagree, I feel compelled to respond to "ddw in windsor"'s point about press coverage and the purpose it serves to help keep us informed and to energize social change. Both functions of a free press are valid and essential in a healthy free society. I would never want to lose such First Amendment benefits. The media has the right to cover such tragedies as they do. It is patently untrue however that sensationalistic coverage such as we have seen is needed to increase the general public's information base or advocate for any useful social change. No sensible person needs to see bloodied tearful children, to know that shootings in a high school are an awful tragic event that must be prevented. No sensible person needs to hear a young girl crying and looking about for missing friends to know how terribly upsetting such events are to survivors as well as victims. No sensible person needs to hear a reporter commenting that a community has been rocked to its foundation or that it will never be the same again. Such video clips, insensitive questioning of people when they are most vulnerable, and dramatic statements validating the devastation are simply lazy reporting. They are easy attention grabbers. The hard work or reporting takes time and effort. Find out for us how we can spot and prevent such tragedies in the future. Investigate the systems that serve these children and see how they can be strengthened. Dig and come up with useable information for positive change. Don't rush to print or video screaming "the sky is falling" and then graphically depicting how it has fallen on our children. Such sensationalism serves no useful purpose. It does however serve to very dangerous purposes: It creates great fear, sadness, and anger in a large portion of the population who then demand / expect quick answers. A local school system here in Virginia just banned certain kinds of clothing (can you guess what color) in response to the killings in Colorado. This quick fix is far from helpful. It has already resulted in reactions of alienation and anger from the very kids we ought to bring back into the community. Instead we further isolate them.

Secondly (and more to the point) this sensationalistic reporting is greatly appreciated and enjoyed by those who lean in the sad direction of committing such crimes. They see a mighty stage on which to act out their rage and ineptness at finding a way in life. This kind of reporting encourages and validates their need to make a big statement. The tears, the chaos, the "never-be-the-same" statements buy us the next massacre.

The right to know must be balanced by a responsible presentation of information, which moves us all in a positive direction.

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