There are a number of definitions of news, including: that which affects an editor; that which “advances” the story; and what I prefer – that which is accurate and affects a lot of people. Now, you might say the murderer affected only 32 people, but we know this story is bigger than that.
As for television constantly repeating the ugly images of this maggot, you have only yourself to blame if you keep watching it. Cable news, in particular, has 24 hours of time to fill. When something important is going on, producers have to assume someone is tuning in for the first time. Not to trivialize too much, but if your team is losing 32-0, should the sportscaster refuse to give the score in order to pacify the fans?
If you don’t like it, don’t watch! Some viewer wrote NBC that as a result of the coverage, she will never watch or read news again. Tell me – who does that harm?
When you read a newspaper, you usually take from it what you want and then throw it out, though you may wish to re-read a particularly good piece, or magnetize it to your fridge. Do the same thing with television, for God’s sakes. Don’t tell me you are disgusted by repetitive coverage if you are gonna keep watching it. And if you are personally affected by the deaths of loved ones or friends, you have more serious concerns than the news media reporting the news.
In my 40 years in or around the news business, for every family member who resents media coverage of their personal tragedy, there is at least one who is grateful for it.
Now, as for any commercial interest that the media might accrue – forget it. They don’t operate that way. It probably is costing most mainstream media more to cover the event than it will profit. Yet, we have the sick spectacle of a Major League baseball team wearing Virginia Tech caps, Nascar putting the Tech logo on its race cars for the next three weeks and sports paraphernalia companies meeting a national demand for Tech hats, sweaters, pants, shirts and ribbons of sorrow. I have no idea who or what is being supported by this outpouring of treacle.
But I know the vicious vacuous right wing – getting pasted in the polls and finding its only answer to domestic and world issues is ideology – couldn’t figure out how to turn the massacre to its advantage until NBC ran the killer’s tapes.
It is failing that, too, because if you give even two seconds of thought to it, what would you rather have – news coverage decided by news people or by state police chiefs, craven politicians and Fox “News.” Thomas Jefferson addressed this quite well a couple of centuries ago.
“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”