Robert Winner


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Media breaking news reports.

The United States has just had a school shooting incident at a elementary school. As in the case of the Colorado shooting the media made initial assessments, some right and some wrong, that went on for hours and interviews with students and those in the know. Links to the Tea Party, and all sorts of claims went on the air with absolutely no proof or even foundation.

There is one station in our area that says ... we have a report that XXX has occured and we will get back to you when we have a full and accurate report.

So the question is: Should the media wait for facts, stop making the news, and return to reporting the event. A interview with anyone who is involved is more emotional than factual and will be used by lawyers later. Should these people be protected from the media until debriefing has occured and a full picture is available and evidence obtained.

How do you view this?

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    Dec 14 2012: I think if there is any chance the shooter is at large, that needs to be reported fast, even if it is not a certainty. This is practical, safety-related information that anyone for miles around needs to know in order to take precautions.

    But there is no reason to report the name of the shooter before it is verified and every reason not to.
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      Dec 14 2012: Do you think the media is trying to run at tweet speed fritzie? I've noticed over the last 5 years there is like......the tempo has picked up, a nervous quality to the reporting.

      A shooter named? What's going on? Are they trying to communicate the actual onsite second by second event? This isn't good if the media start using assumption before the facts are in, too much "I need the data yesterday" before the professionals have had a chance to work the scene.

      If anything the police should have given a media conference if the shooter was still at large. I've yet to look at the news reports on the unfortunate event but from what Rob states, it isn't good.
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        Dec 15 2012: The shooter in this case killed himself as part of the rampage, according to report. That he was not at large mattered in an immediate way to me because my eldest daughter lives thirty miles from there.

        I read that the news had first mistakenly named the brother (who was not near the incident- rather, at work all day in a different state) as the shooter and then corrected themselves.

        I think news outlets pride themselves as being the first with information. I don't know whether they get the info first from Twitter?
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      Dec 15 2012: Dude, That was an excellent tag. Thank you. I think the Doc is right on. Thumbs up.

      All the best. Bob.
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    Dec 15 2012: Things hardly turn out well when money is the first and most important consideration. Media organisations are under pressure to sensationalize, and to stretch the truth, and to lie. Just about anything in their perenial interest in "good copy" (news that sells commercial air time or gets hits online).
    Journalists who gain access to sensitive material and publish it may be said not only to report the news but also to create conditions for more 'news' to report.

    I hope things would not get out of hand in a disastrous way before something is done to restore responsible journalism.
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      Dec 15 2012: We are the buyers of the news industry products. They offer unverified reports and we accept them. They make money. Hmmm.
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    Dec 15 2012: Here's the formula: Scoop = Ratings=Money. No media advertises "You heard it it here after we fact checked everything." No, they all advertise "You heard it here FIRST". There was once a penalty for printing or broadcasting bogus news. I don't think there is any more. My answer to your question is AbsotutelyYes. (Have a look at the current TED talk by Markham Nolan about this very subject).
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    Dec 19 2012: Yes I remember when it first happened no one could understand what was going on, too little information. And to be honest the little knowledge makes one terrified of the *unknown*. Just don't agree with the chaos and the unprofessional way of conveying news.

    But see, prestigious news corporations, like BBC, DO state that these are uncertain information and they have not checked its credibility yet.

    Another point I would like to add is after the shooting, some professionals in the field of psychology and criminology have stated that the excitement news agencies add to news, somehow, glorify the act in many distorted teen minds. As they reviewed some diaries of young mass killers, they could see how many of them killed tens just to be famous, to be respected, regarded and to feel important.
  • Dec 17 2012: "So the question is: Should the media wait for facts, stop making the news, and return to reporting the event. A interview with anyone who is involved is more emotional than factual and will be used by lawyers later. Should these people be protected from the media until debriefing has occured and a full picture is available and evidence obtained."

    Yes, this should not be mandated but the media should be cautious out of respect for the victims, to avoid the possibility of erroneous reporting and avoid making the perp appear as more than he is.
  • Dec 16 2012: In the case of the breaking news the mdia should report what is happening at that moment that it happens because this is something that needs to be known right away being that someone watching the news could be affected with that particular situation at the time. I think interviews should be conducted even if it is emotional depending because sometimes emotions bring out the truth. This evidence should be used at the time in court because sometimes when an interviewed is done weeks later people tend to forget or leave out actual facts that could help in solving the case.
  • Dec 16 2012: This guy was different Maybe he would have been a shaman in a different time and place. Crazy now and here. That doesn't mean that better treatment and coverage as some of you have suggested. We can sell soap and politicans Why not eliminate this behavior through the media?
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    Dec 16 2012: Is there any NEWS in media really .....?
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    Dec 15 2012: Well we had a public institution for those with mental conditions then it was downgraded to a community based system where mild cases can go to special units for a respite if and when they felt a spiral coming on.

    We've had one massacre like this but that was before we went community based, an isolated individual who didn't know he had built a fortress around him of invisible walls that only he could feel. It was before the net was introduced in my country and in an isolated lifestyle beach side community.

    Why kids? A good number of these sad events ends up with kids lives being taken.
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    Dec 15 2012: Linda, I didn't have an agenda. I left a comment about guns that I should have known would get some panties in a knot. Judging by the aggressive tone in your reply I can see that it is best that I keep my comeback to myself, it would probably upset you further and that was not my intent. I appreciate having conversations with people whose opinions are different than my own but when it gets personal and mean I'm no longer interested. See ya.
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    Dec 15 2012: Edward, we have each had our say. We will probably never see eye to eye on this. I genuinely hope that you never have to use your gun to protect yourself or your family from someone with a gun.
  • Dec 15 2012: The problem is obvious. At one point the TV and radio news organizations practiced journalism. They now freely admit that they are part of the entertainment industry. What we see on the major media is tragedy being presented as entertainment. When you see it in that perspective, you can see that they are doing a very good job of it.

    It would be good to be able to turn on the TV and see journalism, but the market is just not big enough.
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    Dec 15 2012: I think Edward hit the major factor ... money. The paprrazzi operates on the basis of a picture can be sold to a major magizine for a small fortune of royality, rich, or famous. They were cited as the cause of Diana's accident. They take photos from a mile off ... they crowd a moving car for pictures and try to sue when their foot is ran over on a public road. They tap phones and trespass to achieve a goal. But the risk is outweighed by the rewards. I sat a plane with a staff member of a trash mag and he said that they often have to pay a million or two to someone but they sell hundereds of millions worth of magizines ... so again the benefits outweighs the risk.

    The media identified Ryan Lanza as the shooter this week when it was really Adam Lanza. For two or three hours I heard Ryan and now even with the truth known I first think of Ryan. It is sad that Ryan was related but even sadder that he will be thought of in association of the shooting for years to come.

    So in the end it is us the consumer that demands the lurid photos, the bloody scene, the raw facts, the sexual inside story. Without a market it would go away or at least be put in perspective. As I go through the checkout stand I read that "She is having Elvis' baby" in big bold type. As I watch a few grab the paper and begin reading. It sells.

    As you bring up MSN, Yahoo, or whatever home page what are the headlines. Often some movie star getting busted, maybe a wardrobe slip up, a sports star in trouble, or a rapper killing or being killed. Who won the Nobel Ptrize in on page 32. The old saying is that blood leads is the media standard.

    PT Barnum said ... I don't care what you print as long as you spell my name right. He is right. The most important thing in politics is name recognition.

    So yellow journalism will continue as long as they can call you names on page one .... and print a "I'm sorry" on page 47 .... and the court says all is well.
  • Dec 15 2012: This raises the question, "Who is responsible? The media for getting out news as fast as possible or the public for taking the breaking news reports as undisputed fact?" While I am against the media being manipulative, I must ask how much of the situation depends on the viewer's assessment of what he/she sees? I personally am skeptical of those emotional interviews discussed in the opening post. Should we as viewers realize that breaking news might be a little off while it first being reported? I personally would rather know as much as I can as fast as I can. I would want to know the major details such as where it is and if it is dangerous as soon as I could. The finer details could be told later. I think delaying reporting the event until the further evidence is obtained would be a worse scenario.
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    Dec 15 2012: GUNS KILL.
    That is where my head is at only hours after this tragedy. I can't even begin thinking about the media...

    Edited~ I am not going to respond to all the comments this is apparently going to elicit. Your "reasoning" is wasted on me and angers/sickens/frightens/confuses me deeply. I'm not interested in disputing your ridiculous arguments as I fully know where it will go. Nowhere.

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      Dec 15 2012: So tired of the "guns kill" mantra.

      Based on hunting licenses, there were over 600,000 hunters
      this season in the state of Wisconsin ..

      Over the last several months, Wisconsin's hunters became the eighth largest army in
      the world.

      More persons under arms than in Iran.
      More than France and Germany combined.

      These men and women deployed to the woods of a single American state, Wisconsin, to hunt with firearms, and no one was killed.

      That number pales in comparison to the 750,000 who hunted the woods of Pennsylvania and
      Michigan's 700,000 hunters, all of whom have now returned home safely.
      Toss in a quarter million hunters in West Virginia and it literally establishes the fact that the
      hunters of those four states alone would comprise the largest army in the world.
      And then add in the total number of hunters in the other 46 states. It's millions more.

      That's why all enemies, foreign and domestic, want to see us disarmed.

      Maybe we should be treating the mentally ill instead of talking about guns. This young man was the age where schizophrenia manifests symptoms. Anybody talking about that?
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        Dec 15 2012: Just because 1000's of hunters use LONG GUNS safely in hunting does mean that the general public should have easy access to HANDGUNS. This argument does not hold any weight.

        (On a separate note...I sign off wondering how there are any animals even left in America if this info. is accurate)
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          Dec 15 2012: Oh I see, it's not ALL guns that kill, only the ones that you decide. Animals are left in America because we have a lot of people working really hard to make sure the population is sustainable for the environment in which they live.

          Why are we still talking guns? This was NOT about guns but about mental illness, lack of recognition, access and treatment. I hate when people deflect from the real problem for their own unsubstantiated agendas.
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        Dec 15 2012: I wonder how many shoot each other by accident. For some unknown reason our hunters have been killing each other by mistake and the public that venture into the deep bush in the last 5 years but we don't view this as deliberate, our bush can turn you around, many a young tourist has gone missing in it and have never been found. Even in today's communication soaked world, no ones going to put a tower in the middle of no where.
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          Dec 15 2012: Those statistics are available here and no one was hurt this year. Our state mandates hunter safety classes to issue licenses and they cover safety in hunting including not going out by yourself. no matter if you are going out with long guns, handguns, or bow. I had to smile about the tower though, we use tree stands.
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        Dec 18 2012: Some bright sparks out there should develop a few apps that can be downed but once installed upon the installee's permission links the searcher to private and confidential services outside of ones own doctors. The services must be free and could be mostly online, Patient confidentiality in today's facebook world still has weight, if people can use these app's that are heavily guarded against hacking then we might find people might use them.
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        Dec 18 2012: I think Obama has been backed into a corner over the guns issue, if i was him i would of used an executive order and shutdown all media reporting of his visit to newtown until he made his speech out of respect to the families, maybe this time a small part of your country could have had him to themselves just for a bit.
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      Dec 15 2012: People Kill! Sometimes they use guns, or knives, or poison, or stones, or bombs, or their bare hands, but the killing is ALWAYS done by PEOPLE.
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        Dec 15 2012: If that mentally ill man did not have access to a handgun, I wonder how many people he would have been able to murder yesterday.
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          Dec 15 2012: No doubt there might well have been fewer losses if he had used Molotov Cocktails, or machetes. Not much comfort there. Sometimes the low-hanging fruit is not the best choice. A ban on guns is the low-hanging fruit in this issue. Guns are a more efficient way to kill, after all, that's what they are made for. However, a tiny, almost immeasurably small fraction of all those who possess guns use them to commit evil deeds. (See Ms. Taylor's comment above). The root cause of these horrid crimes is not guns. Would we feel better if the body counts were only 10% of what they are? Would the problem be less devastating? It's the people doing the killing that are the problem, not how they kill. I grieve with you, Ms. deWet, for the untold pain and suffering resulting from this tragedy. But let me keep my gun so I can protect my children against such acts. Thank you!
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    Dec 14 2012: What is it with Killing kids?

    Anyway this is just a small portion of how this news has gone worldwide and how it saddens all people everywhere. This is so sad.
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    Dec 14 2012: The media has a big habbit of publicizing any and all information even remotely relevent to the subject matter and I really do doubt there is any reason for it other than the pursuit of profit.

    The number of times I've seen full front page pictures of crime suspects with their names, towns, occupations, previous history etc etc only to then be acquitted, is absurd and such 'facts' shouldn't be legal.

    A newspaper/news station/ news show/ news article should be exactly that --NEWS.
    Not opinion, not lies, not slander, not unfounded ideas, not ideological spin. Just news
    (and the lack of that being the case is probably the foundation of the issue at hand).