Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shooting At Virginia Tech: Day Two (Tuesday's Show)

Hi everyone. We've got John King anchoring for us again because Anderson is apparently still stuck in limbo. I guess it takes two days to travel from Afghanistan to the states. That must be one frustrated reporter. I still can't quite believe he turned right around. It seems like a crazy decision. But whatever. It does, however, beg the question: Is the most immediate always the most important? Last week Don Imus was the most important thing in the world, now it's as if he never existed.

I've been having some difficulty watching a lot of the television coverage (specifically cable) of the shooting because quite frankly it's making me feel a little dirty. The tasteless graphics. The tragedy theme music. It's a massacre packaged for a viewing audience. It's obvious a lot of the students want to tell their stories and they should definitely get the opportunity, but I'm sure many just want to be left alone. I can't imagine what the media circus must look like. CNN alone apparently has 120 people there. And over and over again we're told that this is the worst shooting in US history. Now obviously that's true, but should people really be making such a big deal about that fact? What if there are copycats? And I'd rather not give the next wacko any motivation to break the record.

As you've probably guessed by now I'm not doing a regular review. I don't know why I thought coverage might be anywhere near normal today. After all, I clearly remember the Columbine coverage still going strong three days after the shooting happened. So this is going to go on a while. Plus information is still coming to light and other information is changing. For example, yesterday we were told that we shouldn't compare this shooting to Columbine because the shooters were nothing alike. Today we learn that-scratch that-we should totally compare the two shootings because they were a lot alike. The shooter was actually a South Korean student at Virginia Tech named Cho Seung-Hui who had been in the country since he was eight, and not a Chinese National as some had reported. It seems he was a loner. Shocking I know.

A majority of 360's coverage tonight was an EXCLUSIVE interview Gary Tuchman did with Cho's roommates. In this EXCLUSIVE interview we learn that Cho was a pretty weird and messed up guy who stalked girls and caused people to actually notify the authorities. Gary's EXCLUSIVE interview also informs us that Cho hardly ever talked and had an imaginary girlfriend. Did I mention the interview was EXCLUSIVE? I wouldn't want to shortchange CNN in their sole claim over a part of a, you know, tragedy. Okay that lack of tact aside, I actually thought Gary did a really good job. Though I am a bit biased. I loves me the Gary. So what else do we learn about this mass murderer? Well, it seems he was a big fan of the song "Shine Down" from Collective Soul. Apparently poor Collective Soul is the new (or would that be old?) Marilyn Manson.

One thing that bugged me about this interview is that they nickpicked this guy's life apart. Don't think I mean that in sympathy to the shooter; I'd just like to point out that if you look at anyone that closely they're going to look crazy. When these things happen we always are looking for a reason. Sometimes I think there isn't a reason and I'd hate for any of the freaky little irrelevant things he did (like leaving the lights on at bedtime) to suddenly become warning signs or whatever. Now the stalking? That was definitely something to be concerned about. Big red flag there. But sometimes quiet kids are just quiet.

Another thing we learned about Cho is that he wrote plays. Very bad and disturbing plays. So disturbing in fact that the professor pulled him out of class. Obviously she was right in that this guy was definitely dangerous, but I'm trying to decide how I feel about the overall idea of scrutinizing people's writing. People write disturbing things all the time and they don't go out and kill 32 people. Hell, I remember reading a story in my college writing class in which a whole extended family of children was abused and/or murdered-each in a different and twisted way. And this was in an anthology. I myself write fiction and have been known to kill a character or several, though not all violently. Creative writing is suppose to be, well, creative. I really hope there's not going to be a chilling effect on what people write because they're afraid of being referred for counseling now.

Ultimately, hindsight is 20/20. A terrible thing happened. Could it have been prevented? Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes bad things just happen. However, we're wired to need a reason. Because reasons make us feel safer. If there's a reason we can stop it from happening again. And maybe this will cause schools to put more precautions into place that really do stop the next school shooting. Of course that will be of no help when the next big shooting is in a mall. Or in a park. Or...you get the picture. For now we have to sit though all the "experts" who are unapologically certain about what was going on in Cho's head and his motivations for doing what he did. In reality, only one person can ever know that. And he's dead. So now we're left with that unanswerable question we're always left with: why?

I'll post something at my usual time on Thursday evening, but whether it's an indepth review or not remains to be seen. Thoughts on the whole situation?

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7 Comments:

Anonymous treeve said...

It appears that, once again, what is happening elsewhere in the world is being pointedly ignored by the US media, who are too busy obsessing over every minute detail of a tragic event. (And Americans wonder why they're perceived as self-centered...)

Afghanistan has been called "the forgotten war". Anderson himself has used that expression, and sadly it is proving to be perfectly accurate.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the universe...

9:55 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@treeve-This will be THE story through at least the rest of the week. It's getting play internationally too. I would imagine if this happened in another country (and similar things have) it would get the same play. It's not right, but that's tv news.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Maddy said...

@Eliza-I haven't been able to watch much of the coverage either.

I don't understand what good comes from having continuous coverage of an event like this. If someone knows please tell me!

@treeve-I'm disappointed that Anderson flew back from Afghanistan to cover this story. CNN had plenty of people already in Virginia to cover all the angles and it looks like John King has been doing a great job.

I realize that this is a big story but Afghanistan is important too. I've heard Anderson say that he was glad that CNN allowed him to do stories that he felt were important even though they might not always get good ratings...I wonder what happened.

9:27 PM  
Anonymous treeve said...

@maddy: Well, Afghanistan has been called the "forgotten war"...

6:22 AM  
Blogger Maddy said...

Afghanistan has been called the "forgotten war"... That's a sad but unfortunately very true statement.

Looks like most of the tv anchors are already back in the studio. I don't have my Direct TV anymore (getting too expensive) so I just watched the 360 podcast but is Anderson adding anything to the coverage besides his physical presence that would have warranted bringing him back from Afghanistan?
CNN certainly hasn't been hurt by not having Anderson there at the scene.

8:06 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@maddy-So far, no he's not. What can he do that John King couldn't anyway? I'm sure there's lots of factors we don't know, but it seems like a pretty big screwup to bring him back.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

AC should have stayed in Afghanistan. Shame on CNN, and shame on him for following the news cycle spotlight. I hope he or his producers read this blog, because you provide some valuable, constructive criticism of the way TV news is put together.

9:25 AM  

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