Thursday, October 17, 2002

Media Coverage of the Sniper Shootings

Hoosier Review showed me this cartoon, which, ironically, was the topic of discussion in Internation Relations today:

Mrs. Gogel claims it is the media's right to broadcast whatever they want. I agree. But I also think the media should follow common ethics and use good judgement in what to publish. If the New York Times received, through an anonymous source, a secret US plan to attack Iraq, hopefully it would use good judgement and determine that it would be best for America to keep the battle plans secret.

The media fails to use this restraint in covering the sniper shootings in Washington. The most widely publicized "tip" of the shootings was the reported "white Chevy Astrovan." While proponents of media freedom may claim that reporting this tip to the public may make them cautious of white Astrovans and a few lives might be saved, it is much more likely that the sniper simply switches cars. Further, the sniper can now play off of the public's fear of white Astrovans. If he picks a target in an area with multiple Astrovans, and then makes a getaway in a green Pinto, there are going to be a lot more sightings of "a white Chevy Astrovan at the scene" and the investigation will be stalled on the now-false tip of a white Astrovan.

Please, media, stop revealing information on the sniper investigation to the public at the expense of their lives.


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