Thursday, October 10, 2013

Seeing Journalists As Murderers

Meagan Dixon

It has been said recently that journalists are criminals when it comes to murder stories. We pick and pry and are heartless when it comes to grief. We want our story and we do not care how we get it.

Is this really true? Are we so wrapped up in producing a story that we don't take family or friends in to account?

I disagree. I feel that good, ethical journalism cares. The good journalists out there do sympathize with their subjects' family and friends; just ask these people that have been spotlights in the media. Some say the media helped and others say they made it all more painful. If you read carefully though, the ones that did help were ethical. They were sensitive, not blunt or rude. They let the subject tell them the story, instead of prying for more. They were good journalists.

Why then, are some of us crowding around funeral grounds as if something ground breaking is going to happen? News flash: the people at the funerals are crying, and the main subject is dead. Nothing news worthy is going to happen.

Earlier this year, Newtown was the biggest subject of all. Over 20 tiny children were ruthlessly murdered and teachers lost their lives defending them. The country was distraught. What kind of monster would do this to children? Are we monsters for reporting it? When is the time to stop reporting and let the families really feel, down to their core, their child's absence?


The first step we need to take as journalists is the step to recognize what is and is not journalism. Covering a school shooting is journalism. Covering dozens of family and friends grieving and putting it on TV for the world to see is not journalism. The country knew the devastation the families must have been feeling. There was absolutely no reason to try to air the funerals of these children to the public. We did not know these children personally, and if we did we would have been at the service. Grieving is a given. There is no need to display it to the public. Let's ask journalists if they would like a video camera shoved in their face the next time they are having a mental breakdown and see what they think of it.

Journalists were trying to get in any way they could, as mentioned in this article. Back off and let the families grieve in private. After all, their child was murdered in front of the whole country. Leave them to what little dignity they have left.

The Newtown funeral was not news worthy.  End of story.


According to this article, "guns don't kill people. Journalists who report the names of people who kill people kill people." Wow, what a bold and offensive statement. 

I understand the need to place blame, but let's be realistic. The person who killed the victims is the person killing people. Gun control has some say in it, and maybe journalists have some say in it too, but the murderer here is the murderer. 

Since that is clear, we can talk about how journalists do have some say in this. Do journalists support further mass murders because of the way they report the killer's name? If you were to ask me, I would say yes.

Some of these killers have mental disorders, therefore no amount of attention is going to change their level of crazy. They need medication or counseling, not spotlight. Although, if we stopped publicizing the mentally disoriented person's name as if he or she were a celebrity, we would be preventing sane murderers from believing they will be thrust into the spotlight if they were to do the same thing. Cha-ching! Genius. 

After Newtown, this was a huge controversy. Why do journalists publicize these murderers? 

Let's try to take their names and throw them away forever. Take the killer into custody, notify the family (in private) and focus on the victims. 

Of course, what would a story be without the villain? 

Journalists that put the spotlight on these mass murderers are only aiding future mass murders. Some of these people are sane but seriously demented in some way and are looking for attention for whatever their reason. If we don't publicize their name or picture if they kill these people, they are going to try to find some other route to get attention. Basically, they will find a more non-violent route because mass murdering people is about as violent as you can get. 

Therefore, problem solved. Stop "celebrifying" the murderers and we won't have such a problem with mass murders or serial killers. 

Thank you, sociology, for looking at the solution instead of just complaining about the  


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