All views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only.
Is the broadcast news industry a "per se" accomplice to public fear of terrorism?
Does TV news audaciously amplify mass horror resulting from national tragedies?
The answers are yes and yes.
The mainstream media - particularly TV news - arguably does more harm than good by constantly re-airing those gruesome and horrific videos of the bombings in Boston as they took place in real time. So why do it? To boost ratings and corporate revenue via super-sensational 24/7 "news" coverage.
Sadly, media sensationalism has run amok once again during a time of national crisis and tragedy. To the contrary, it should be incumbent on the media to ethically and accurately report the news in the most responsible manner possible.
Broadcast news outlets should adhere to journalism best practices and industry standards of excellence - assuming those old rules still exist somewhere in the era of corporate ownership and new media dominance.
However, it's neither necessary nor ethical - from a journalistic standpoint - to scare the public further with incessant TV airings of the bombs exploding at the Boston Marathon.
How many times does the public need to view the ensuing chaos and carnage, including the loss of life and limbs? Is 50 times enough? No, okay, how about 100 to 500 times? Where and when does it end?
Is it just possible that such sensational saturation media coverage of a terrorist incident is counterproductive to the viewing public, not to mention the victims and their families? Do the media have no shame?
Subjecting the general public to the violent video loop of the bombings over and over again only serves to foment fear, anger and panic. Ironically, this is what experts usually say terrorists hope to accomplish through their evil and ignominious acts.
Therefore, the question arises: Is broadcast news, in a sense, needlessly aiding and abetting the goals of the enemy?
It's no secret within the so-called "Fourth Estate" that sensationalism sells. It always has. The age-old journalism adage, "If it bleeds, it leads," still dictates the traditional news agenda to a large extent at the global, national and local levels.
Even so, today's super-sized sensationalism - buttressed by the never ending news cycle - appears to be the new gold standard for most media outlets. Broadcast news is merely playing catch-up, desperately trying to keep pace with the new digital and mobile whiz kids on the block.
But where should TV broadcasters draw the line between responsible journalism and spinning scare tactics in order to sell news? How much is too much?
Before I answer that last question, this just in: "Breaking News" on CNN (for the umpteenth time today):
"NEW PHOTOS OF BOSTON BOMB FRAGMENTS".
Cue the ominous music, the horrific headlines and, of course, the vivid videos of the bombings.
Here we go again...
David B. Grinberg is an independent political-media analyst with prior work experience in the White House, Congress, federal agencies, political polling firms, and the news media - including:
* Government spokesman at U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
* Political appointee in Clinton-Gore Administration (OMB, Presidential Personnel).
* Staff, Office of the Majority Leader, former Congressman Richard Gephardt.
* Staff, national Democratic pollsters/strategists Stanley Greenberg and Celinda Lake.
* Journalist, reporter at BNA, Inc. (now "Bloomberg BNA) and "U. Magazine" (Colleges.com).
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