EDITORIAL - Media exploits killer's manifesto

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  • EDITORIAL - Media exploits killer's manifesto

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EDITORIAL - Media exploits killer's manifesto

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By: STAFF EDITORIAL
Posted: 4/20/07

Just days after the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech, NBC made the inappropriate decision to release videos of killer Cho Seung-Hui angrily ranting about the reasoning behind his crimes.

Cho had sent a package that contained 43 photos, 28 video clips and a 23-page letter directly to NBC headquarters in New York during a break in his shooting spree on Monday. After NBC first released the shocking "multimedia manifesto" on the NBC Nightly News broadcast, 24-hour news networks quickly followed suit, constantly showing the disturbing video excerpts and photo clips.

The media's release of Cho's photos and diatribe gave a deeper look into the mind and motivations of the killer, a decision that has had a great ripple affect across the country. While NBC stands by its decision to release the material, we believe the choice was made too hastily, without much thought or sensitivity for the families of the victims of the shooting, who have only had days to handle the emotional effects of losing their loved ones.

Forensic psychiatrist and ABC News consultant Michael Welner appeared on "Good Morning America" yesterday to discuss the troublesome consequences. "This is a social catastrophe," Welner said. "This is perversion...[Cho] needs to create and produce his own picture in order to give himself a sense of power. Nobody saw him that way...that's why he set this up and he did this to achieve immortality."

Welner's argument is logical. This footage does not present the public with any deeper knowledge about the crimes and, for that reason, it is not at all newsworthy. Instead, showing the video is a disrespectful and insensitive action toward the Blacksburg victims. Furthermore, the broadcast footage gives the fame-seeking Cho an audience and a stage where he can attempt to justify his crimes. In other words, it gives him exactly what he wanted.

The problem is that 24-hour news networks have the unsettling habit of overeagerly reporting breaking news before having time to reflect upon the consequences of their coverage. NBC and other media outlets are pressured to constantly search for exciting and stimulating material to put on the air and as a result, they neglect to spend time on research and deliberation.

That's what went wrong here. Cho's video collection was treated as news gold and was broadcasted without enough forethought. NBC and the other news networks had an obligation to act more responsibly. The videos and photos should have been carefully investigated before they were broadcast. Someone should have sat back and reflected upon the material and the negative repercussions that could follow.

Unfortunately, our media tends to do this kind of thing all the time. As soon as we turn on our televisions, we are bombarded with news tickers, terror alerts and breaking stories that are blown up and emphasized to the extreme. Networks play on fear and paranoia to attract viewers, giving us shocking and reactive spurts of material that only serve to rouse our emotions.

Instead of focusing on being the first to get the scoop, NBC and other media outlets should concentrate on thoughtfully investigating material before putting them on the air.

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Original Source:<a href=http://media.www.pittnews.com/media/storage/paper879/news/2007/04/20/Opinion/Editorial.Media.Exploits.Killers.Manifesto-2870222.shtml>The Pitt News - April 20, 2007</a>

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STAFF EDITORIAL

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The Pitt News

Date

2007-08-19

Contributor

Sara Hood

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Annie Tubbs <annietubbs@gmail.com>

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eng

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STAFF EDITORIAL, "EDITORIAL - Media exploits killer&#39;s manifesto," in The April 16 Archive, Item #1133, http://april16archive.org/items/show/1133 (accessed October 25, 2014).