Each week seemingly brings new shooting deaths here in the United States – and as a nation we collectively mourn as we see faces of the victims and feel the pain of their friends and loved ones. Sadly, each incident brings out the political hacks on both sides of the aisle using the tragedy for their own purposes; however, beyond blaming and finger pointing, one insidious accomplice in these events seems to go about unscathed and conducting business as usual – the media! By presenting in depth coverage of the killers (their lives, motivations, and twisted beliefs) the media offers encouragement to other maniacs who seek the same dubious version of fame.
The shooting deaths in Roanoke, Virginia, of WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker (24) and her cameraman Adam Ward (28) while they were conducting a live interview with Vickie Gardner (who is recovering from a gunshot in the back at a local hospital) regarding local tourism are mind numbing. This brings a whole new and rather sick dimension to the term “reality TV” – a disturbing, gruesome, and potentially far-reaching act of violence that should be a slap in the face for the media; unfortunately, after watching coverage last evening and early this morning, it is apparent that the media has learned nothing from this tragic event or any of the ones that came before it.
As in the past with other shootings from Columbine to Sandy Hook to this terrible one, the media tends to focus on the shooter and the reasons why he or she committed the crime. I for one would not waste a drop of ink on writing his name – and I have never written the names of shooters in the past or included their pictures in articles. My only wish is that all media would follow the same pattern.
The salient point here is that the warped minds of killers like these crave attention. They are committing these violent acts to further interest in either a cause – as in the case of the Boston Marathon bombings – or for personal matters, which seems to be the motivation in Virginia. The spotlight on the killers is truly salt in the wounds for the families and friends of the victims. They don’t need to see and hear about the killer’s reasoning – whatever the case their loved ones are dead.
The other readily apparent reason not to publish pictures of shooters like this one and feature stories about his life and reasoning for taking lives is that it stokes the fires of like-minded individuals. Every maniac who is looking for some kind of recognition or feels wronged by an employer, a lover, colleagues, or the government can find gratification in such coverage of what the rest of us see as a deranged lunatic.
The problem is – and this killer confirmed this point of view by indicating that he was motivated to act because of the Virginia Tech killings years ago and the more recent shootings in South Carolina – that seeing such publicity for a killer after horrendous violence only encourages others to follow the maniac down the path.
The best thing all media can do while covering events such as these is to consign the killer or killers to complete obscurity. For reports to go on and on (and this is what I saw last night and this morning) about the killer and all his reasons for hurting people is farcical. I don’t care about his motivation, about the way he suffered, or any other poor excuse as to why he did it – the most fitting way to deal with these murderers is make them faceless and nameless.
Of course, in a case such as the Boston Marathon bombing, when the suspect survives and goes to trial, there is going to be a public airing of everything. It is a fact that we have to live with; however, if the killer commits suicide after perpetrating such senseless violence, what is the point of making his story seem important.
There were opportunities to see family members and colleagues talking about the victims. On FOX News Megyn Kelly interviewed Alison’s boyfriend Chris Hurst and her father. How these two men even managed to answer questions boggles the mind, but it seemed important to both of them to stand up for Alison’s legacy and also to shoot down accusations made by the killer in a “manifesto” released by the media.
By publishing the rantings of this madman the media qualifies them as something worthy of review. The warped minds out there read and identify with them. What a recipe for new disaster after disaster.
The media should reconsider how it handles shootings like this one and sadly, those we know will come. You would think that since these two victims are two of their own – journalists on the job no less – that the media would have taken a step back and said, “Let’s not give this guy what he wanted – a platform. Let’s just focus on Alison and Adam and their families.”
Sadly, I must leave you with two truths that should bother you for the rest of the day. The first truth is that the media will never stop covering these stories the way that it always has because it is believed there is a perverse interest in the public to learn about why a nutcase is a nutcase which leads to increased viewership. The second truth is as long as the media continues presenting stories about killers like this one and publishing their photos, they are going to be complicit in inspiring others out there who want their piece of dubious notoriety.
I along with millions of others mourn Alison Parker and Adam Ward – two lives cut short by a madman whose name their families and most of the rest of us wish we had never heard mentioned. Rest in peace, Alison and Adam.
Photo credits: Facebook, WDBJ7[/two_third] [amazon template=iframe image&asin= 1885219490]