We've been having a discussion of saturation media coverage on Lamorinda Patch Facebook.
The dialogue was about how media coverage of mass violence might spur people to do attention-getting things such as" which happened the other day in Pleasant Hill.
On Facebook, I disclosed that I am indeed a member of the media and not so objective on this issue, and then asked, "Is your point that, if we say the media dispensed 720,000 digital words and 7,200 minutes of video footage in the first 72 hours after the Newtown shooting, they should have only dispensed 100,000 words and 144 minutes of video footage, and that might have been moderate enough to avoid the attention of an unbalanced person who would call a school and say, 'you're next.'?"
Justine Parmelee of Lafayette responded,
It really isn't about specific numbers, it's just the intense saturation of coverage. Anti-social and mentally imbalanced people see all the news coverage and all the attention that Lanza got from the atrocity he committed and they start thinking that it's a good way to go down in a blaze of glory.
Lamorinda Patch has been tremendously balanced about this story. The news coverage has not been as intense as you would find from CNN or SFGate. However, I think that for the most part, the coverage has gotten out of hand. Look at poor Ryan Lanza. In the rush to get the story posted first, news sites labeled him the killer and ran his photo. They should have taken more time to vet the story. Now, in addition to mourning a murdered mother and in addition to having to cope with the fact that his brother brutally murdered 26 people, his name has been dragged through the mud nationwide.
How I believe the mainstream media can help: localize the big story, don't make the body count the headline, and take the time to analyze the facts rather than rushing to press.
Parmelee noted that some of her ideas came from a website of a forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Park Elliott Dietz.
What do you think about the media's role? Tell us in the comments.