December 17th, 2012

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, a demand for ethical media

The now-iconic photo of Connecticut state police evacuating children, eyes closed, from Sandy Hook Elementary. Photo by Shannon Hicks of the Newtown Bee.

The now-iconic photo of Connecticut state police evacuating children, eyes closed, from Sandy Hook Elementary. Photo by Shannon Hicks of the Newtown Bee.

The coverage of the mass shooting in Connecticut serves as yet another reminder of the inherently sinister nature of America’s news media. Perhaps most disturbing in all of this is the footage of journalists interviewing young children from Sandy Hook Elementary school, struggling to articulate their emotions in the aftermath of a traumatizing ordeal that no one, least of all a child, should have to endure. Even news organizations such as MSNBC and CNN,  often lauded as credible news sources, have capitulated to this sensationalism.

It’s difficult to justify putting a young child in the public eye following such a traumatic incident. The American Psychological Association explains how in the aftermath of a shooting, parents should “…limit the amount of time spent watching the news because constant exposure may actually heighten their anxiety and fears.” Consequently, allowing those children to be featured on the news is no better. As the news media has stressed incessantly throughout their coverage of this incident, these are elementary students, no older than ten years of age. Regardless of trauma, their emotional development in general is far inferior to that of an adult. They are not politicians accustomed to the spotlight and familiar with navigating their way through complex issues; they are young children unable to fully understand such levels of violence on a comprehensive level, especially so soon after it has occurred.

As this mass shooting took place at an elementary school, it might seem inevitable to some that the news media would attempt to interview the young victims who witnessed it firsthand. This is indicative of an ever-increasing trend in our culture, however, of mass desensitization. As a collective culture, we should not concern ourselves with the perspectives of young children who have just witnessed the murders of their teachers, their friends, and their classmates.

Some of the parents at Sandy Hook Elementary received the worst news of their life, while others were more fortunate. Those who did not lose their children, though, will also face many challenges in the coming days, weeks, and years. It is not in their interests for it to unfold in the glaring eye of the media, and it is not in our interests, either. We have to ask ourselves: How far are we willing to let the media go? An uncompromising demand from the public for responsible media coverage is long overdue.

–Caitlyn Garcia

Caitlyn Garcia is a contributing writer to The LAMPpost. Follow her on Twitter @garciacait, or click here for more of her LAMPposts.

Post a Comment

Grassroots.org
Creative Commons License