Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Open letter to Senator Gillibrand re Newtown
Today I read a tweet by Senator Gillibrand regarding her support of increased control of guns. While I tend to support this action on her part, I am nevertheless thinking that this is not the only reform that is needed. I therefore just sent her the following twitlonger
@SenGillibrand Journalism reform is also needed. The Supreme Court has always interpreted the constitution to allow time, place & manner restrictions on speech, particularly where there is clear and present danger of violence.
The press uses the news to sell drama. This is a business, not just free speech. They enhance the news with simulations, music, high drama interviews, etc. They increase public fascination with high drama events. This makes the news somewhat akin to a horror movie.
In the case of murder/suicides, and particularly mass shootings, the enhanced emotional reporting techniques make the acts more attractive to unbalanced people.
The law should allow only basic factual reporting of such events, i.e. a newscaster saying: "In Newton, CT today, 22 school children were killed in a mass shooting, with the gunman committing suicide afterwards," with no photos, no identification of the gunman, no interviews, no re-enactments, no drawings, and no music.
This de-dramatization of the news would make this type of crime less attractive to potential perpetrators.