The Media’s Coverage of Tragedy- Adrian Choa

by amateurflaneur

I just thought I’d write a quick one after reading through the media’s coverage of the Boston bombings. It seems to me that the level of detail that such publications as the BBC and particularly the Daily Mail go into is both unnecessary and potentially dangerous.

In terms of the former adjective, articles taken up by high resolution images of blood-soaked streets accompanied by quotes and statistics on how many limbs were blown off or amputated are sickening and perverse. This level of grotesque detail was prevalent in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting also, where the Daily Mail published such things as a map detailing the exact route the shooter took through the school, identifying where each corpse lay and how many bullets each child took. The Denver cinema shooting coverage was the same.

As stated before, I think this detail is equally dangerous. With shootings, the culprits become celebrities, names and kill counts that everyone can remember. The next person who for whatever reasons decides to plan a massacre has an idol or inspiration; a statistic to beat. With the Boston bombings, the BBC today has been detailing the devices found at the site; showing the use of a “1.6 gallon pressure cooker” triggered by a battery-powered circuit board to be effective alongside shrapnel and nails (“one with shards of metal and ball bearings, the other with nails” to be precise). Of course, terrorist cells or individuals have thousands of digital sources of information on bomb-making, but to be informed on the mechanisms and movements behind an attack which had such devastating effects is surely useful. With the school shootings, each weapon used, what type of ammunition and how many clips carried were also academically documented.

Of course, the media is entitled to and must publish the truth of events free from censorship. I do believe however that there has to be a level of care and moderation which favours decency and safety above profit.