The broadcast of Virginia Tech gunman, Cho Seung-Hui’s ramblings and psychotic behaviour on American TV networks, NBC, ABC and CBS has opened up heated debate on media ethics.
It’s true we now live in a world shrunk so small by advancements in communications technology that hours after American TV networks broadcasted the ravings of the Virginia Tech mass murderer, Singaporeans were on YouTube watching as media yet again gave an outlet for psychopaths to spread their messages of hate to mainstream audiences.
I guess the question is, how does broadcasting the videos serve the public interest – is it news or a tactic to attract ratings? Everyone one of us will have our own opinions on this and I welcome all, I personally think in situations like this, each case must be taken on its own ‘merits’.
Did the video help the public deal better with their grief? By putting a face to the killer and showcasing his ideals, do we better understand why he did it? Will we cause more harm by showing the video?
I don’t support arguments saying violence in videogames and movies cause people to kill, and I hate it when governments start censoring things but I do understand that in the realm of school shootings and high profile killings – notorious killers often look at other high profile killers as sources of ‘inspiration’.
By airing his grievances have the media ‘glorified’ his actions, of course not in the minds of me or you but what must a disturbed teenager who relates to Seung-Hui’s statements and impressions of the world, think?
I agree that media have an almost impossible task in balancing truth and harm and if anything good has come out of this video, it’s that it has brought about debate and kept media on its on toes. All networks who broadcasted the images have since assured the public it will limit future broadcasts of the offending footage.
In truth, I don’t think airing the videos will ever help people fully understand why he did what he did because his mind was just not right.
I guess the next step in the Virginia Tech murders is the blame game – and it will be the media who get to point some fingers.