The Spectrum of Death: Perspective on News Coverage

Misfortune and the News

Misfortune, fittingly but unfortunately, makes news.

When a terrorist attack slays innocent affected individuals, the horror hits the headlines. Every time a random avenue shooting takes down unsuspicious bystanders, the killings generate on-the-scene local news reviews. When soldiers die in a combat raid, the casualties and bravery get high mention and reward. Arms Industries

Not just these, but a wide, and horrific, range of similar tragedies draw essentially assured and often immediate media coverage — without a doubt the just mentioned terrorist attacks, streets murders, and military casualities, but also the mishaps and heartbreaks of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, serial killings, mass shootings, explosions, planes crashes, disease plagues, indigences, genocides, fatalities of first responders — we’re able to go on. Nearly without exception all portions of the media survey, extensively, on these type incidents. Death cuts to the core of the human spirit. The press, both as an avenue and a reflection of the human condition, legally and respectfully report on these tragedies. We would and should expect no less. 

But not all tragedy makes news; mass media reporting of fatalities will not encompass the much larger, more comprehensive array of fatalities. A million people inside our country die annually of cancer, heart disease, cva and diabetes, year in and year out. Daily, by the hundreds, the unlucky or in too many cases imprudent pass away in auto accidents, the despairing at their own hands in suicide, the elderly in falls, and the young of prenatal difficulties and birth malocclusions.

This larger, wider number of casualties does receive, sometimes, media coverage, as well as periodic and specific special reports, and we interact with these casualties with the same empathy, matter and sorrow as the more often reported types of tragedy. But obviously, media reporting of fatalities from this latter group of causes, deaths from cancer, or strokes, or elderly falls, or suicides, that reporting runs lower overall, and much lower for each death most basic, than the reporting gained by the headline happenings mentioned earlier — the killings by terrorists, the murders from street physical violence, the deaths in fight, the fatalities of a mass shooting, the affected individuals of plane crashes.

This kind of does not seek to assail or denigrate or criticize the top and critical reporting of the sad and deadly incidents the media does cover, neither does this argue for any less coverage of terrorist attacks, or natural disasters, or casualties among our armed forces and first responders. This coverage pays respect and value to the unfortunate and in a lot of cases blameless and unsuspecting victims. And the coverage stirs all of us to action — to strengthen our defense against terror, to donate, to volunteer, to improve basic safety, to keep our government responsible, to demand better activities of the corporations, to improve our disaster preparations, to change our habits, or to simply learn and understand.

And if we find ourselves overloaded by this coverage, we can turn away for a respite. But if we lacked coverage, we could not fill the void.

Therefore why raise this strong concern about the different levels, dare say considerably differing levels, of coverage of the diverse sectors of the spectrum of deaths?

Why? Because if we truly wish to inhibits deaths and preserve life, we must check. We have to check whether differing amounts of reporting on different reasons behind death and fatalities, whether those differing levels lead us to miss, possibly unintentionally, critical and important lifesaving efforts. Do we neglect or overlook activities and programs that could be taken to prevent and reduce casualties?

The Advantages of Newsworthy

Discussing start by examining what about an incident helps it be newsworthy, what raises a tale to the tolerance warranting reporting.

To start, as a reasonably clear point, being newsworthy suggests just that, being new, sometimes absolutely new, just like a new discovery, but more frequently new, different, unusual, referenced against the normal course of events. The event must go above the immense background of lots of events occurring normally, every day, multiple times per day, in multiple locations.

Consider, for example, trees. Timber companies harvest, hopefully in an environmentally sound way, millions of trees a year — nothing special, not often reported. Nevertheless, when one of those harvested trees will provide as the centerpiece of the holiday display say in Washington DC’s Raccourci, that singular tree will, more than likely, merit media attention. Thus, similarly, in conditions of the tragic, confirming goes not to the millions of acres of forests where trees increase, uneventfully, a lttle bit every day, but rather to those several thousand acres that push through into deadly and dangerous forest fires.

Think of our commutes and travel for work and business. Thousands and thousands of planes, trains, buses and subways complete their trip daily successfully, though more often than desired revealing the passengers to following that, but minor, inconveniences. Credit reporting though centers on those few journeys which do not reach their vacation spot, through a crash, or derailment, or need for emergency evacuation.

What other key attribute elicits strong reporting? Human poignancy. The upstanding cab driver who works tirelessly to come back a priceless violin left in the taxi cab, this incident draws reports attention. The beauty of the Cherry Blossoms, again in Washington, DC, and again to use another example involving trees, attacks us with charm and grandeur, and as such can become a photography or video feature in the media.

On the sad side, the poignancy operates darker — incidents of appalling injustice, or frightening vulnerability, or mystifying source. Terrorism rivets us on all these dimensions. All of us cringe at unfairness placed after the innocent patients and the barbaric mind of the slayer; we find ourselves feeling no place lies beyond the reach of such acts; and we can not bring up or understand how or why a person could justify their killing activities.