Some of the callers to my show have taken some of the families of the Virginia Tech victims to task for so willingly speaking into any camera or microphone that’s shoved in their face. They wonder if doing so makes it hypocritical for them to then criticize the news media for its coverage of the story and airing of the Cho videos and photos.
I don’t like the notion of attacking the victims of any tragedy, or their families — but I see the point. I can assure you that when and if a tragedy befalls my family, you will not see me discussing it on “The Today Show” or any other media outlet, including my own radio show. I’ll be too busy mourning and dealing with how to piece my life back together, a process of healing that will last long past the point at which any journalist would still be interested. I’m not saying that others are wrong to handle this differently, because it’s an ultra-personal decision, but for me it’s not an option.
My colleagues in both the radio and TV newsrooms will hate me for saying this, but I wish more people who find themselves at the center of a tragic news story would tell reporters to go away, that they have no comment to make, that they don’t want to share this horrible moment with the world.
As one who works inside the mass media beast, I can tell you that it lives to chew up everyone and everything in its path for as long as there’s meat on the bone. Once that’s gone, and maybe some of the marrow with it, the beast moves to its next story and devours it in the same way — and on and on. But there’s no law that says you have to be fodder for the beast. At a time when your life has been turned upside down and you don’t know which way to turn, resist the urge to turn towards the spotlight.
You’ll feel better afterwards.