Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Quit sensationalizing news. Especially tragedies.

Of course we're all saddened and sick with grief and confusion over Monday's horrible tragedy in Chardon. Parents and teens probably feel it a little differently, but we all feel it. It's a human tragedy and a horrible thing. And I suppose, if I had a really magnanimous personality, I could excuse as "human nature" the news media's coverage of the event and its aftermath.

But I'm not that big-hearted or understanding. Even as I reeled from the shock of the initial reports, I was disgusted by my fellow journalists (?!) and their complete lack of respect for the victims' families, for the accused shooter(s), and for the privacy of witnesses who were certainly in a fragile state.

It's not how I was taught that professional journalists behave, and I wouldn't feel like one myself if I didn't state my objections publicly, somehow. There. This is it.

Shaking off my righteous indignation at the sorry state of my local news media (I have plenty left over for the national media) I have to say in this case, the platforms of Facebook and Twitter have been less sensational, and more humane and helpful, in their "coverage."

What can we do? I don't know. I'm sad and confused, like everyone else. I'm not giving up on the news media, and on journalists in general. I still believe it is a profession, and many will stand up to prove it, even now. More importantly, I have faith in our collective humanity, and believe that each of us will offer to others - friends, strangers, and even, especially, people we don't like or understand - an extra measure of kindness going forward. If that's through Facebook, OK. If it's a photo of a flower on a textbook on Pinterest, so be it. I won't be looking at local "reporting" vehicles for perspective on this tragedy, however.

Live and let live

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