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Siegfried Walther
 
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Denying the oxygen of publicity

26 May 2014, 05:00

Every time some lunatic decides to engage in a massacre or mass shooting, the media descends on the scene and no stone is left unturned to examine every possible aspect of the killers life.

The recent killings in a military base in Texas a month or so ago is a case in point. Where did the second soldier to do this, a man apparently suffering from mental issues, get the idea from?

What amazes me most is the way the reporters reported on the story. They mentioned that history was repeating itself did so without any mention or acknowledgement that their rolling coverage of the last guy, with the resulting publicity, was more than likely to have been the catalyst for the second incident.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that these people, who are clearly desperate and often also lonely, pay close attention to the coverage which others who engage in such atrocities receive. This coverage typically exceeds anything which they might ordinarily receive or be able to generate in the ordinary course of their unfortunate lives.

I don't doubt that media organisations like Sky News, CNN and other, who showed the California killer's video on TV will soon have the blood of the next killer's victims on their hands as Mr KillNext enviously watches the coverage the present killer's video is receiving.

We live in a world of reality television in which celebrities are revered. In many minds this creates the distorted view that you are nothing unless you are the object of significant media coverage.

Is it not time for the media to revisit their approach to people who commit these atrocities.  Alternatively, the law needs to be changed to prohibit the names or photographs of these people from being reported.

Instead of wallowing in every detail of such killings, I would argue that a short report of the event at the end of the news half-hour would be sufficient. 

Surely the public have no legitimate interest in the gory details of such killings. Speaking for myself, I find the in-depth reports on some tortured nobody who decides to go out with a bang to be utterly boring, to say the least. Their lives were irrelevant to me yesterday, and I refuse to reward them by giving them any attention at all now that they have committed an atrocity.

This is not to say that the social problems giving rise to these incidents (apart from the media) should not be the subject of academic study to eliminate or limit other root causes of these evils, if at all possible.

 Generally however, I find that one massacre's details don't really differ much from the details of others. The characters involved are usually equally boring, sad individuals.

The same applies to terrorist and bomb blasts, particularly those in troubled regions. Excuse me, but a bomb going off anywhere in Iraq, Pakistan and related trouble spots do not constitute news, much less breaking news.

If a year were to pass in which there was no bomb in Pakistan or Iraq, THAT would, in my view, qualify as news.

As far as coverage of these events are concerned, I find that the television scenes at one bomb blast site are largely indistinguishable from the coverage of the last twenty bombs. Why are the camera's there??  

Terrorism can only succeed if the media provide the terrorists with the oxygen of publicity. One can just imagine them rushing home in the aftermath of a blast to watch their handiwork on TV.

I would invite the media to consider a one liner at the end of the news in regard to all bomb blasts of a repetitive nature from known trouble sports. Preferably no video coverage at all.

"And finally, a bomb blast has occurred in the centre of Bagdad in which a number of people were killed and injured. And that concludes tonight's news." (NO PICTURES)

Imagine how infuriating that would be for the terrorists. Imagine similar coverage of a school massacre. A few lines at the end of the news. It would suffice to mention that the killer is an unidentified male school pupil aged fifteen who is believed to be disturbed....

I'd be willing to bet that if that's how these issues were covered on television, fewer people would bother to make the effort to do any more than end their own lives if they felt that it was time to end it all.

Of course, the alternative is also true. When the media revel and wallow in every detail of these killings, making it a top story, and when they insist on doing a full expose on the life of these sad individuals, one can BE SURE THE NEXT killer is watching....enviously  ....thinking that if he should do likewise, it will be his turn to "shine".

Yes, the National Rifle Association is also partly to blame for many of these killings in the US. They ensure the means are easily available. But the desire is, in my view, largely cultivated by the celebrity coverage and the hype the media creates in regard to the perpetrators.

If you have any doubts about this, the video shown on Sky today in regard to the most recent incident demonstrates that the killer is intent on maximum coverage for his video and he appears to relish that prospect.

If the media don't cease this insane coverage of their own accord, then perhaps it may be time to consider the need for to be considered. I really don't have any legitimate legal interest in the intimate details of a misguided killer, nor, in any event do I care.

It's not a freedom of expression issue at all. But the effects of this coverage may be a right to life issue insofar as the next victims are affected.

It's time for the media to own up to their role in the proliferation of such events.

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