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Thursday, April 19, 2007

What Good Could Come From Airing the VT Killer's Video?

NBC played into this murderer's hands, and thus makes itself an accomplice to his horrific acts, by flooding the country with his images, making him a hero for every nut job in the country.

By Dennis Byrne
Editor & Publisher

So, what does it say about NBC that a sociopathic mass murder selected the network to let him get in the last word by airing his dangerous and perverted tapes.

If I were the decider at NBC, I would have said, "Not on my network, jerk." Instead, NBC played into this murderer's hands, and thus makes itself an accomplice to his horrific acts, by flooding the country with his images, making him a hero for every nut job in the country. When the shots ring out the next time, and students die in their classrooms, I hope NBC executives remember.

Read more at Editor & Publisher


JV said...

Thank you for your article on "what good could come from Airing the VT killer's video.
You are right, I am outraged and wrote to NBC. I am planning to boycott NBC and MSNBC and GE.
Hope a lot of people will do the same. This kind of company doesn't bear this right and I hope charges will be filled against the executives who took that unsensitive decision.

Anonymous said...

I am a proud but devastated VT Hokie.

Your column in which you questioned the NBC decision to air the VT killer's video was excellent.

By fulfilling the killer's wishes, NBC became a terrible part of the VT story. They should be ashamed and apologetic for their actions.

Thank you for your honest and thoughtful comments.


Anonymous said...

Answer to "What good could come from airing the VT killer's video?": ratings. The network benefited greatly by having this exclusive.

There has been a lot of discussion of NBC's 'tough' decision. It seems to me that the question of whether or not to run this kind of material is a no-brainer. You don't. Reasons for not doing so are multiple, but here are

1.Paying this kind of attention to this kind of criminal legitimizes and dignifies the criminal and his acts. (Can you spell 'copycat?')

2. Giving criminals what they want isn't the job of the media.

In ordinary life, you don't let the person who's behaving the worst run
your enterprise. This is a good rule. The media should follow it.

If the media actually need some basic rules for covering this kind of incident, maybe the following would provide a start.

1. Don't let the criminal control the story.
2. Don't dignify the criminal in any way: use terms like 'killer',
'criminal' or 'murderer'--but not 'gunman' or 'shooter.' Any term used to describe the criminal should be a widely-used term of opprobrium, not one that could be construed as 'cool' in any way.
3. If you want human interest, keep the focus on the victims--following
the format for military KIAs would be appropriate. Don't focus on the
criminal to any great extent.
4. The public wants to know what happened and why. Describing the event accurately but not sensationally is important. Describing who, in addition
to the criminal, was responsible for how the incident went down is also important.
5. When the time comes to describe the criminal (and this need not be done at the height of emotional reaction to the incident), the description should not dignify the criminal's acts, and should not excuse them.
6. When selecting graphics to illustrate the story, do not choose items that resemble video games, animations, or other non-human formats. They create the wrong kind of distance from the events for potential copycats, and distress those who relate to the victims in human terms.

David J. Phillips said...

What good could come from airing the video? Why -- a ratings bonanza for NBC!

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams led its Wednesday broadcast with a 7.5 rating/15 share in the top 55 television markets, according to early data from Nielsen Media Research, easily besting the competing newscasts on ABC (6.1/12) and CBS (4.2/8).