The news world hands them stardom

by andybechtel

Romenesko has this post linking to a pair of columns that are critical of the coverage of the shootings at a shopping mall in Nebraska. Both say that the media are focusing too much on the killer, with one writer arguing that the killer remain unidentified.

Although I am not sure removing the shooter’s name is all that helpful, I am sympathetic to these viewpoints. Much of the coverage has focused too much on the killer, and CNN.com has been especially awful in this way.

Several hours after the killings, the centerpiece at the homepage was an image of the killer’s face with a headline copped from his suicide note: “Now I’ll be famous.” Earlier today, the site’s top story was about the 911 calls from frightened shoppers — the sort of material that local TV news uses to sensational effect. By playing up the killer and the chaos and shock that he created, CNN.com and others give him exactly what he wants.

Shootings in shopping malls and other public places are news. Stories about those events can be reported and edited, however, with sensitivity and dignity — and that can be done without (as Morrissey once sang) handing the killers stardom.

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