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Are ‘Bad Guys’ publicized in the wrong manner?

by on January 30, 2013

Following the tragedy in Newtown last month, a ‘supposed’ quote/reaction from Morgan Freeman (which turned out to be falsely attributed to Freeman) went viral on both Facebook and Twitter.

And it sort of changed the way some people (including myself) view the way that criminals are covered and treated publicly.

First of all regarding the quote, regardless if Freeman wrote it or not, it doesn’t matter; because it still makes sense. People shouldn’t look at it any different had someone else wrote it; which is something people in this country do at times (some people would not take anything seriously if it isn’t related to a celebrity or a brand name, or whatever).

I happen to agree with this quote and some of its ideas.

I found out the name of the killer in this shooting (Adam Lanza), before I found out a single victims name (I get that names of victims were released later, but still). CNN showed a picture of Lanza during half of their coverage that day; who cares? On the bottom of most channels covering the shooting, Lanza’s name was printed nice and clear, indicating his age and where he’s from; who cares? Even after the names of victims were released, I didn’t see the names printed out on the crawl (on the bottom of the screen). I listened to some radio shows; and all they talked about was Lanza’s background and what kind of person he is; again, who cares?

People at home are watching this and already know more about a person who doesn’t matter, than the innocent ones who do. Some will argue that people want to know about Lanza so they know how to prevent crazy-minded people from doing things like this; does it take 27 people to be killed to start  ‘looking at ways to prevent crazy people’ from doing crazy shit? That is bull-crap.

There are crazy people sitting at home who would love their ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ to be more like Lanza’s ‘infinite fame’ (for the wrong reasons).

This says a lot about those types of people. but also some about our country. Some believe this country is dying as an empire, maybe a slow, but obvious death. Isn’t the idea that people care more about the killer of  a massacre than the victims kind of help explain why a country is on the downfall?

I believe that the fact that those types of  media coverage on tragedies (where the killer is viewed infamous, and more important than the victims) are the ones that ‘sell’ and interest viewers of this country, than as a whole, the country is getting what it asked for. Nobody wants another tragedy like this to ever happen again not only in this country but anywhere in the entire world; but if the media continues to feed its viewers with what it wants than with what it needs, people should not be surprised these types of things happen ( I am not saying that people care about Lanza, but the simple idea that the media is ‘selling’ what the country wants, has to be changed).

Media coverage has to change, even if it doesn’t sell; for the better of this country.










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  1. I’m VERY happy that you brought this up because I think it is a serious and legitimate issue. I happen to agree almost completely with the quote, and I agree that it shouldn’t matter who said it. The idea is out there, its a good one, and it shouldn’t gain or lose legitimacy based on the source. I thought that the way the media handled the Newtown incident was disgusting. It made my stomach turn the way they obsessed over Lanza with completely irrelevant information just to keep the story going. I felt like within two hours of the shooting I knew what he had had for breakfast the morning before. Now this guy will live on in infamy. Thanks to the media, every crazy/sick person in America now wants to be just like Lanza, aka famous.

    There is little doubt in my mind that media outlets obsessed over this story simply because it sold so well. It sounds awful, but what brings a bigger WOW factor than a deranged man killing school children, followed by interviews with said children. I would estimate that 90% of the coverage introduced nothing useful or pertinent to the public discourse. Overall the coverage was pathetic and embarrassing bullshit.

  2. I totally agree with both of you, I think the media needs to change the way that it reports these kinds of incidents. We talked a bit in class about how to respond to these kinds of issues in the media…do we, as journalists, respond, or do ignore “crazy” people and move on? We can’t simply ignore these kinds of issues. We know crime is an everyday part of life, and I think it is only right to respond. But reports need to be accurate, even if it takes more time to get all the definite information in place.
    The way the media reacts to these kinds of breaking news incidents is getting progressively worse. Sometimes it seems like we work backwards, as we jump quickly on stories and focus on the “bad guy,” who to blame, why did this happen? I think it would do the media much more good to wait for information to come in before reporting live footage that we are unsure about.
    Social media only makes this problem worse, as it puts out the same information that may not be accurate, and it puts the inaccurate information out to a huge audience and fast.
    In terms of your argument, that the media portrays “the bad guy” poorly, I completely agree as well. It sold the story, news got more viewers, and social media sites blew up with the information about Lanza. The biggest way the media contributed to this was when many news stations reported the wrong Lanza brother to be the murderer. This Lanza’s Facebook was blown-up with hate messages and threats. Later it was reported that the other Lanza brother was indeed the shooter. The way the media throws names into stories before being confirmed needs to change, and the media is the first place for this change to start.

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