Is the media positively reinforcing the Virginia Tech killer’s actions?

Advertising is defined as: “to announce or praise (a product, service, etc.) in some public medium of communication in order to induce people to buy or use it; to give information to the public about; announce publicly in a newspaper, on radio or television, etc.; to call attention to, in a boastful or ostentatious manner.” (source)

Advertising, both on and offline, can have tremendous effects on the people it reaches. As I’ve watched TV lately and seen report after report about the horrific events that happened at Virginia Tech, it makes me wonder “What is going on with the media?” Are they immortilizing this methodical killer? Do they not realize that they are doing exactly what Cho Seung-Hui wanted them to do when he put together the viscious confessional video footage to seal his fate? He wanted the fame, the recognition, the lime-light. He needed the attention; he sought after it. As the media tries to “break it down” and focus on the killer more than the victims, they are “advertising” his act as a way to get tons of “ad space” all over TV, Online and Offline. Have you ever thought that the media may be challenging sick people like Cho Seung-Hui to out do this thoughtless act. Saying things like “more chilling revelations about the gunman”, “the largest masacre in US history”… it makes me question, “Is all the recognition, analysis, and coverage that the media is giving Cho Seung-Hui giving others ideas, encouraging them to do similar things to get attention and recognition from their peers?”

Cho himself refers to the Columbine killers in his last recorded rantings.  “Outsiders” like this are convinced that they are victims, that they are not responsible for their own actions, and they see these mass murderers as heroes of their cause. Cho even had the audacity to compare himself to Jesus Christ, dying a martyr for the weak and afflicted. When other outsiders see the attention, recognition, even credit he is receiving, might they not be compelled to imitate his actions?

We love numbers – they help us keep score. Right after the incident happened, the media couldn’t wait to tell us all that this was the biggest mass murder in history. Someone out there is probably saying, “I could do better than that…I could be the worst in history…I could be famous…they could make movies about me…I could be the ‘heizman trophy winner’ of murders…” Could these be the thoughts going through future killers’ minds?

So, the main question is this: “Is the media exploiting a tragedy and advertising for their gain?” Do they really think they are providing a valuable service to all of us? Do they really think that by analyzing all the data, talking about it over and over, doing complete one hour reports on it – is this really helping the general public become nicer to one another? As Glenn Beck said perfectly, “Media coverage has hardened us…it’s always about the next big story”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

4 Replies to “Is the media positively reinforcing the Virginia Tech killer’s actions?”

  1. I agree with everyones assessment of the situation at Virginai Tech this week. Unfortunately the Reporting Media doesn’t do responsible and ethical reporting of Horific events like the one that just happened. They sensationalize everything in order to get better ratings than the other networks. They make martirs of the Killer’s that Kill Innocent people who are leading their lives to the best of their abilities minding their business without hurting anyone else. Everyone agrees that this is creating copycat actions throughout the country. It is unfortunate that the media does not focus on the Good in people, but rehash the evil that occurs in the world on a daily basis.

  2. I completely agree. The media’s actions in reporting on the killer have been irresponsible. Even though it may mean lower ratings (and less advertising revenue), the focus of the coverage should be on the tragedy of the loss, not on the biography of the evil man who performed these despicable acts. Already, copycats at other colleges and universities are beginning to issue threats.

  3. A warning, yes. A hope that some how this may change, yes. Does the media recognize what they are doing? Yes, most likely. Hopefully by pointing out the obvious, some of us can help make changes that are necessary. Hopefully tragedies like this one will not desensitize us. Hopefully we won’t be callused by the terror of this event. Hopefully we’ll consider the victims and their families. Hopefully the focus will be on what we can do to be better people. Hopefully something will change.

    Thanks for your well thought out comment Brad.