Along with the rest of the nation, I watched in horror at the events that unfolded in Newtown, CT last Friday. I was out running errands for my business in the morning, so I didn’t see the initial breaking news coverage. I quickly checked my social media networks upon arriving home and noticed a few mentions of thoughts and prayers for Stony Hook Elementary School. Naturally, I Googled the school’s name to see what had happened.
My first search result returned a close-up picture of terrified, crying children being led across the parking lot to safety. I was shocked. First, as I learned of the morning’s events, and second, at the photograph of young children that had been posted online and was spreading like wildfire. That image has been immortalized, capturing those children in a moment of sheer terror forever. Why? What news value does it add?
Of course that was only the beginning as the rush to break the story led to quoting ‘anonymous law enforcement officials’ and publishing the wrong individual as the shooter. To further the misinformation, a Facebook profile and Twitter page were published that supposedly belonged to the (wrong) shooter. Wait, the Twitter page didn’t even belong to the misidentified shooter, throwing yet another innocent person into the spotlight.
Where has all of the good journalism gone?
As a journalism major, I remember learning some of the sound principles of quality journalism. Accuracy. Accountability. Ethics. Legitimate, vetted sources. An accurate story was just as important as speed, and journalists were held accountable to a code of ethics (unless you ended up at the Enquirer, but I digress).
In today’s world, we have instant access to social media and the Internet, which connects us all at breakneck speed. This always connected feeling and easy access to the masses has brought positive and negative effects. But has it killed quality journalism?
Today, I came across an article written by Roger Ebert, a well-known film critic. It’s entitled News coverage, not movies, helps trigger Newtown-type tragedies. You can gather its point from the title, but it’s worth a read anyway. As always, Ebert makes a case for his opinion and gets straight to the point. As I read his article, it made a lot of sense.
If this is true, then the current state of journalism and news coverage is more than sub-par; it’s helping to stoke the fire of violence in this country. As a journalism major, this just breaks my heart.
What are your thoughts on the state of journalism today?
- Have the Internet and social media contributed to its demise?
- Would you rather wait for quality, accurate information or receive news immediately (regardless of errors or misinformation?)
- Are journalism and news coverage helping to contribute to the rash of violent acts in this country?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this timely subject. Please leave a comment below or connect with me on social media to let me know your thoughts. Feel free to invite your friends to chime in with their opinions as well.
Image credit: planeta via flickr
p.s. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with everyone in Newtown, CT. affected by this horrible tragedy.