14 December 2012

Friendly Fire Isn't

I have a few angry, saddened, and irritated observations regarding the school shootings in Connecticut today. Most of my ire is at the media for the way the event was covered. In no particular order:

  • When the President gives a three-minute-long speech, you don't need to take 45 seconds summarizing it on the radio... especially when you do so inaccurately.
  • When the media is expressing concern for the children who were told to close their eyes on the way out (which, BTW, is exactly the wrong thing to do), it's more than a bit hypocritical to play — over and over and over — a "personal reaction" from an eight year old who had nothing to add to the facts. That's not journalism; that's chasing ratings. And, just as in the Rodney King trials, the constant repetition risks turning it into wallpaper anyway.
  • Indeed, not one of the on-scene interviews broadcast on the CBS or CNN radio news had a damned thing to add journalistically; at most, they were largely incoherent confirmations that it was a tragic event. You don't interview grieving children and parents and neighbors for information. Perhaps the on-scene journalists should review the entire write-up of the Milgram experiment... including the later criticism of the cruelty of the investigators to the subjects by verbally coercing them to continue.
  • That there are some lawful, and even laudable, uses for firearms does not mean that they should be freely available any more than the lawful, and even laudable, uses of self-powered wheeled vehicles means that every twelve-year-old should be empowered to drive to school in a Formula I car.

Finally, I have a general observation on some of the commentary that has been on radio news and on the web. It's pretty damned clear that nobody in mass media has learned anything since Columbine. There was no greater respect shown for the victims; there was no greater care taken to get the facts straight first (indeed, there was arguably less); there was no greater understanding of the political context and process surrounding firearm availability and use; there was no greater understanding of the possible (and probable) political responses. Based on all of the above, I give the media a D– for the day.