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I Just Don’t Get It

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April 16, 2007 by Marj Hatzell

You know, this awful thing happened today.

At Virginia Tech, many people were killed (including the gunman) when someone went around the campus shooting. At last count it was 31. And, I indirectly know someone who goes there and he e-mailed and said that he was on lock down while they searched for the gunman. In the building he was in at that very moment.

Needless to say, this person is shaken, upset, sad and confused. He may or may not have lost several colleagues and students. And, while he sat there on the floor of his room away from windows with police outside the door, he was able to check the Internet for information, since no one could really tell them anything.

Nearly a half hour after it started they were already reporting casualties on CNN and Fox News. By 9am the experts were analyzing the situation. Before they even had the gunman caught (at least, confirmed). Students were in lock down. Bodies were everywhere. But the news channels already had gun and violence “experts” reporting with shreds of information. We are talking slivers here, people. They were not only making a mountain out of a molehill (not saying the situation wasn’t bad, but they were fabricating 90% of their stories) but they were basically reporting every ten seconds. They were already interviewing students “eye witnesses” and victims. They were there before the police.

Want to know my problem with this? As with every other atrocity on the news, they are more concerned with getting the story out first and less concerned with reporting accurate facts. Instead of waiting until a real press conference or until they have their facts checked, they report the first thing they hear. No one, and I mean no one, knows exactly what happened yet. The police are still finding bodies and victims. They are still conducting interviews. They are still looking for evidence. Yet, the various channels, Web sites and radio stations are reporting five minute segments on the aftermath. And it is barely over.

No wonder people get confused. No wonder we get stories mixed up. No wonder rumors fly. When you have something like this reported and they say it was a student, no a homeless guy, no an unidentified Asian, no a _________, everyone has a different version of the truth. And for some reason, when these horrors occur, we have a tough time NOT reading or watching it. Remember 9/11? Who doesn’t! I remember watching the Today Show that day, having it come on, refusing to watch it and take the babies for a walk and then coming back and finding myself GLUED to the television sobbing all day. And even then they were reporting 7 attacks, 5 attacks, 9 attacks. 5,000 people dead at the WTC, 2,000 people dead, 10,000 people dead. No one really knew for days, weeks and months what REALLY happened. And yet, it was on all day, every channel.

The Media isn’t all bad. I just feel they have an obligation to get information to people in the best way possible. Lately it seems they are trying to be faster than fast food. That really irks me.

For respect of the victims they could at least wait until they have all of the facts straight.

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