Thursday, June 23, 2011

The monster we have created

There's a local anchor here known as "Miss Dramatic." Every story is the end of the world, every tease talks of the most spellbinding tale you've ever heard. But she really goes over the top when death is involved. I swear the woman actually gets turned on when there's tragedy involved.

Which brings us to the Casey Anthony trial. Have you seen the whack jobs outside the courtroom actually fighting to get seats? These people act like they're waiting for the premiere of the final Harry Potter movie or camping out for tickets to a concert.

And yes, it's our fault.

We have turned newscasts into a reality show.

Tragedy is now sexy, death is so commonplace that young people are desensitized to it. Local stations run Internet videos of convenience store crimes, kids fighting on school buses, people brawling in restaurants.

It's all about getting on television.

This is more than Andy Warhol's fifteen minutes of fame thing. This is something else. It's a culture shift that is disturbing, and one that is being fed by some news organizations insatiable thirst for tragedy. It's Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry" to the tenth power.

The Florida trial is about a little girl who was murdered, yet it is now about being part of the media circus. The judge should clear the courtroom and let the trial proceed without anyone in the gallery.

This is what happens when you base your daily newscast on tragedy.

Think about that next time you're producing your show, or covering a story like this.

If you're a News Director, and there's a tragedy in your market, think about not covering it at all and letting those affected mourn in peace.

And if you're one of those anchors or reporters who gets turned on by tragedy, you might just take a long look in the mirror.


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