What’s becoming increasingly apparent in the days since one young man, Adam Lanza unleashed his awful act of carnage is the public’s perception of how the media has fared in it’s coverage of events. If there is one word that comes to mind immediately to describe the overwhelming public sentiment towards the media it’s the following: ‘sensationalist.’
In fact here is a reader’s comment left on this very site not less than an hour ago that caused me to think and wonder out aloud.
Are you kidding me with this? I hope no one takes the articles on this site seriously. I know I will never visit again. You quoted all the negative things that “drinking buddy” (real reliable source there, by the way) said and then followed it with, “Perhaps what’s most alarming about the above exchange of words is why Adam Lanza’s mother, Nancyhadn’t attempted to find some professional relief for her son?” Are you serious?? Obviously you read the article if you’re snagging quotes from it. So why didn’t you include from that SAME article you quoted and from the SAME drinking buddy this: “I asked her if she was getting him help, and she said she was,” the friend recalled.
Please, find a conscience and stop trying to profit from others’ tragedy by writing nothing but sensationalist garbage.
Had we or some of us in the media really failed to understand and comprehend the tragedy? Are we in some way guilty of profiting from this tragedy (I wont lie web traffic is always brisk for media outlets when senseless absurd things like this happen)? Then again isn’t it our jobs as journalists/bloggers to report, gather facts, reflect and engage readers? Are we really to blame for ideas, points of views that might knowingly enrage readers? Has our role from gatherers of facts now changed to that of engagement of content in the world of electronic media?
What was in fact a very poor showing by the media came Friday morning when it was initially mistakenly reported (by CNN) that it was Ryan Lanza who had committed the atrocities at Sandy Hook Elementary school. By then like a dominoes effect (yes we in the media closely watch what everyone else is reporting) most other media agents followed suit, erroneously reporting that it was Ryan Lanza when it soon became apparent that it had in fact been his brother Adam Lanza. It took Ryan Lanza having to go to Facebook to clear his name.
Also hampering the perception of media is the reasonable argument that so many of us bloggers were simply racing to spray news on the wall without really checking to see whether what was being said was actually correct or not. The obvious dangers are too easy to see, misinformation, skewed reporting, individual’s who inadvertently have their reputation thwarted and the general lowing of the bar of quality journalism. All things are true and whether you the reader wish to believe us bloggers, journo’s, writers care about such things you ought to realize how in some way the real world dynamics have forced our collective hand.
At the end of the day, bloggers, journalists, media outlets in the day and age of electronic media earn our keep by the number of impressions our websites earn (as we are often remunerated by ad dollars earned by page impressions earned). Where as before media outlets earned their revenue via subscriptions and selling copy at the local news stand the new dynamics of modern media demand fast turnaround and brand presence on the web to differentiate one media agent from the other. The irony of course is the collective herd mentality to be first out the gate with the breaking story (and thus be widely linked by others) can have the disastrous effect of producing hysterical journalism.
Nevertheless reader’s concerns are legitimate, news reporting becomes skewed, sensationalist and often guided by the impulse to grab readers and not necessarily spend hours and hours researching and hoping one has the perfect story (this is the bitter reality of electronic media, especially smaller outlets like ours who do not have a conspicuous budget to hire scores of interns, researchers, journalists, copy editors that some major media outlets have access to and who nevertheless are often getting it wrong anyway).
Yet what in the end is the role of media but to engage, report and gather information? It’s a meeting point of ideas and an exchange of ideas and for that the web has done itself proud even in the face of a type of journalism that so often short changes reader’s desire for quality engagement. In the end the reader’s needs ought to prevail as readers will consistently choose thoughtful dialogue and engagement, which is not to say there will never be a shortage of a type of journalism that is near sighted, not fully thought out or simply not really interested in the story at hand but plundering for sensationalist gargle.
Below are some comments I gathered on the web in relation to the media’s coverage of the Adam Lanza tragedy, see what you think:
Until our over-the-top media culture changes its coverage of these events, and until mental health care becomes easier to obtain in our country and guns harder, this is going to keep happening. (Hell, it’s apparently “almost” happened two or more times just since the coverage of this one started. Coincidence…? )
No one fact checks on cable TV news these days. They all copy off one another. It’s shameful.
Another demonstration that “the media” are mainly news readers–anything but reporters, and careful about very little. They are not only incompetent and negligent; some are also incontinent or gaseous blowhards.
I think research has shown this to be true, at least I have heard experts who specialize in these types of killings mention similar theories. Many of these are copycat killings, and publicizing these events leads to more people considering it. However, I’m not sure how you censor something which is obviously such a huge and devastating news event. I think it is one thing to push local media to focus less on car crashes and fires, and another thing to not publicize this. I really don’t know the answer.
the media was completely irresponsible on there reporting of this tragedy. interviewing children? releasing names. inciting hysteria by there need for competition. this made the paparazzi look almost human. joe friday once said “just the facts, maam, just the facts”. this isn’t a one hour t.v. show, that is solved in one episode. shame on them.
The press and news media are irrelevant. Facts are not as important as being the first one to run out with anything and if it is incorrect, oh well!
But the media can’t stand silence and think misinformation is preferable to saying nothing at all.
They misidentified the shooter. Misidentified his mother as a teacher at the school. Misidentified the brother as a “second shooter” who had been arrested in the woods nearby. Said there were two bodies–one in Newtown and one in Hoboken, and speculated that both parents had been killed.
On CBS radio I heard that “the shooters girlfriend and another friend” were missing, too. And that a third brother had been shot and killed.
They said “one entire classroom is unaccounted for” which doesn’t -seem- to be true although facts have been sketchy even now that they’re known.
Media didn’t do a very good job of reporting, imo, because they just wouldn’t WAIT for official announcements.
Someone commented that we need to have regulations on the media. I sure do agree. The media, in the past, was to report the truth. More and more, it’s not about the truth, but about being the first to report the biggest story and about garnering highest ratings. This past election proved that the media will all out lie…and believe it…to keep or grow their audience. What is wrong with our nation, as a whole, when we no longer care about facts and evidence or taking the time to check them? What is wrong with our nation when people no longer matter but making money does? What is wrong with our nation when tragedies are manipulated to support a political or religious agenda? Where’s the accountability? Where is our humanism and compassion?