Friday, April 20, 2007

The videos and the backlash

Via the NYT - NBC News Defends Its Use of Material Sent by the Killer
NBC News fought back yesterday against a growing backlash over the way it handled the pictures and writings of the student who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech.

Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, strongly defended the network’s decision to broadcast the material.
I watched some of the videos yesterday and I will admit I had mixed emotions about NBC's use of them. My initial response was similar to Rosie O'Donnell's. I saw a video clip of her saying that by airing the video they were playing into Cho's plan. They were helping to make him famous. However, my next thought was that people want to see it. People want to know why he did it and if the media has access to information that can help people figure that out, they have the right to show it.

There was more to the story than just the fact that NBC aired the video. What struck me after watching some of the video clips from NBC was how they were using them. There was one video I watched yesterday (and I would link to it but I can't seem to find it this morning) of Chris Matthews talking to someone and the still pictures from the manifesto are just looping on screen behind them. To me this just seemed to be in poor taste. Okay, maybe show them, but why keep looping them?

Maybe the video confession/manifesto should have been saved for the experts only. Maybe we should focus more on the victims and less on the killer (and that thought actually occurred to me early on Monday). Maybe that would remove some of the motivation of future mass murderers if they knew it wasn't a way to get their stories told. But that just isn't the way the human mind works, or at least the American mind. We want to know and we think we have the right to know.

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