The Media & Newtown

Peter Applebome and Brian Steltner, reporting for The New York Times:

This town, of course, has been transformed by unimaginable tragedy. But in a more mundane and presumably transitory way, Newtown and particularly the small community of Sandy Hook have also been transformed by those coming to report on it, a news media presence that has clogged quiet roads, established glowing encampments of lights and cameras, and showed up in force at church services and public memorials.

Nearly every newscast on CNN since Friday night has been broadcast from Newtown. The same has been true for nearly every network television morning and evening newscast. Coverage of other events has been minimized if not scrapped entirely, at least for a few days — sometimes with breathlessly inaccurate results about the massacre. On Friday, there was a succession of reports about the shooting and the gunman that turned out to be wrong: reports about the gunman’s name, about his mother’s occupation, about how he got into the building.

I went on a mini-rant last night on Twitter about the media coverage following the shootings. Frankly, I feel the “continuing coverage” meme that I see on newscasts is unnecessary. I fully understand the gravity of the situation, and to a point I even understand journalists’ desire to get the human interest side of things. But at the same time, reporting about every vigil and all the on-location reports is a bit much. These things aren’t really newsworthy. Everyone recognizes how tragic this is, but it’s time to move on, at least from a journalistic standpoint. We’re capable of providing support without making Newtown the lede story over and over, every single night. The families of the victims deserve to grieve in peace without having to worry about a microphone or steno book being shoved in their faces at every turn.