Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The global shock has still not worn off from this week's Virginia Tech. tragedy. Reporters, bloggers, and writers across all mediums have named the shootings as "the greatest campus crime tragedy of our time." Paul J. Gough from Reuters/Hollywood Reporter described the networks' coverage of the tragedy as "heavy," not because the extensive amount of coverage was undeserved, but because all three broadcast networks flew the major anchors to Blackburg, Va. for the convocation ceremony and memorial, during which the President and First lady were both interviewed by all three networks. Unfortunately, a major part of the story is the killer himself, Cho Seung hui, who we found out was a senior and a Korean immigrant.
His close-up, which I can only look at as a mug shot though I am not certain if it is a mug shot or not, is inescapable in this week's papers. The cover of Wednesday's Tribune's reads "As campus grieves, 'monster revealed," followed directly by a passport size photo of Cho. Why allow a 'monster' to attain such celebrity status as to splash his name and photo across every front page imagineable? As important as the identity of the killer is, I think it is sufficient for the media to say his name, call him whatever they please, and be done with it. I imagine that Cho will now become a household name, depsite the fact that he is known for murdering more than 30 people in one morning. By stamping his name and face on newspapers and television across the nation, we are allowing the killer to enter into our homes and allowing ourselves to become familiar with him as days go by.
One of my friends told me that if he was a parent, he would want the killer to be showcased on every paper and every TV possible to show what he's done. But I fully disagree, because I think focusing on the killer is wasted ink and space. Why would I, as a consumer of news, be interested in the face that committed 33 murders? I am perfectly fine knowing his name and seeing his face once, and now focusing on what is being done on campus crime and any new developments in the story. I can't imagine that families and friends of the lives lost are happy seeing the murderer every day when they open the paper or turn on the tv.
I am not critical of network coverage of the tragedy, but am suggesting that networks are excessively showcasing Cho's crime.
I understand the argument that people want to know "Why?" and "What brings someone to the killing point?" Even if Cho were alive, I don't think we, the questioning public, would not get to the bottom of his crime or thought process.
So if I were editing or producing a show, I would get rid of his face, get rid of his name, get rid of anything that further allows him to enter into people's homes, and focus on how this story will progress from here on out.


At Thursday, April 19, 2007, Blogger ji said...

Thank you KY. I couldnt agree with you more. This coverage, publicity, etc, is exactly what Cho wanted. I wouldnt give him the satisfacation. Clearly, he is placed himself in history though...with other well-known killers like Bundy, Domer, etc. In fact, the media has now made him a celebrity with their heavy coverage. Every FBI profiler and psychoanalyst cannot wait to study this case and I am sure there will be a book out shortly. In short, if I were in editing, I would not put his face on TV nor would I have played his manifesto. Not to mention, now Cho can terrorize the victims families right in their own living rooms with all this coverage. In the end, he wins. Just look at the coverage he is getting in this blog---I refused to blog about him for this exact reason.

At Friday, April 20, 2007, Blogger AG said...

I completely agree with KY. It is so unformatunate that this guy has achieved celebrity status. Also, I know I would be able to identify his face and state his name instantly, while I would be pressed to know the name of one of the victims. I would know about them, in the general sense, but not half as much as I know about the killer. That is what I find unfortunate.

At Friday, April 20, 2007, Blogger AG said...

I say celebrity, but I didn't actually mean celebrity. I know people probably know what I meant, but I want to clarify. People know his name. He has done something horrific and his name and face are now plastered in people's minds.

At Friday, April 20, 2007, Blogger AM said...

Right on, KY. Much of the Today Show's coverage the day after the footage was released was about the decision to air the footage. It was a good attempt at transparency, but it would have been more powerful to arrive at the alternate decision - not to air the video. Matt Lauer said at the top of the show that some victims' parents who were scheduled to be on the show had cancelled their appearances following NBC's decision to air the video. Sadly, we probably won't hear from them again or at all as the news moves on. What a missed opportunity to portray the pain the massacre caused, rather than glorifying the killer.

At Friday, April 20, 2007, Blogger AJS said...

I posted this elsewhere but I'll repost here because it makes sense with this thread. Basically, showing something is not the same as glorifying it. It's not TV's job to edit things you don't like for you; if you're unhappy or don't want to see something, turn the TV off. Putting someone's name and picture -- or even their rantings and manifesto -- on TV doesn't make them a celebrity or mean you condone it. No one is showing it and saying "You know, he really seems like a great guy except for the time he killed 32 people." They're showing it to give viewers a sense of just how maniacal he was. That's not glory at all.


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