Sunday, December 16, 2012

Media Responsibility

     As the news of the horrors developing in Connecticut streamed in, I found myself regularly checking various news websites for updates. I was at work, like many of you, so I could only quickly check in and get an update. As the day progressed, I found myself more confused by the reports. 

     The first story I read noted that a there had been a shooting at an elementary school. One teacher had been taken the hospital with a gunshot wound to the foot and that the gunmen were dead. That was it, didn’t sound too terrible in the whole grand scheme of things. A shooting is terrible, please understand I am not minimizing this, but the report was vague and made it appear as it if the situation had been resolved rather quickly. 

     The next time I checked, I found myself reading a report that differed dramatically from the first. This update stated that close to thirty people were dead, most of them kindergarten students. It also noted there was only one gunman, a former student at the school.

     How could the reports be so different in as little as thirty minutes? All day long this continued. Every time I checked, a “fact” appeared to have been changed from the last report. The shooter’s name, his age, the weapons he used, where his mother was killed, and on and on. It was as if the media was closing their eyes, spinning in a circle and playing pin the tail on a “fact” (term used loosely). 

     When did we start allowing this? Where did we break down in our expectations that the media would check and verify the facts before they reported them to the masses? We have turned a blind eye to this, allowing for a print now and apologize later mentality. 

     I am writer of fiction, and yet I am still required to research characters, setting, and key elements of the plot before I write. My readers would not allow me to create a piece without having done this background work, and again, this is for fiction. I would not insult their intelligence in doing so. 

     The events that took place on Friday in Newtown are beyond words. The loss of such life is a tragedy. My frustration with the media is minimal in comparison with any sadness or despair experienced. I do, however, feel the mishandling by the media throughout the day and into the night made the sting burn a little deeper for a nation in mourning. 

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