Child murderers and news coverage

I didn’t learn of the Newtown school massacre until Friday evening, when I visited a friend’s house and saw the TV. When the coverage got to the point of reporters pushing microphones at surviving pupils, I asked her to change the channel.

Whenever this sort of mass murder occurs, the news media are on it like vultures, continuing coverage long after they’ve exhausted every fact. They take away the privacy of those who want to grieve, and they give child murderer Adam Lanza what he wanted: an orgy of misery, helplessness, and bewilderment all over prime time TV and the Internet. A CNN story makes it sound like a Greek tragedy unfolded by the gods:

In a town still numb from an inexplicable massacre of children, relatives of the victims will meet with President Barack Obama on Sunday when the president visits.

Questions and anguish abound two days after the gunman allegedly shot his mother before killing 20 students and six adults at a nearby elementary school. He apparently turned a weapon on himself, silencing any way for the world to fully understand what was in his mind.

While the community grieves, authorities continue chipping away for clues as to why the tragedy unfolded.

Lanza committed the most despicable of all forms of suicide, killing children in order to go out in blaze of glory and having people trying all over TV and the Net to “understand” him. The attention, the treatment as some mysterious force that makes everyone helpless, may provide fuel to the next life-hating piece of scum who considers a similar exit.

News media have the right to do what they’re doing, and I’m not suggesting they should ignore the event. But let’s recognize what they’re doing: turning a tragedy into a chance to build up their ratings. Let’s also recognize that audiences who want to lap up the suffering of others provide those ratings.

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