Sunday, April 29, 2007

Is the media actually to blame?

I'd like to start up a discussion on something that has bugged me for some time now, but came up again in the wake of the Virgninia Tech killings. In the week after the massacre, students and others at the university turned on the media, kicking them out of university buildings and banning reporters from areas on campus. The reason - many said THE MEDIA criticized Tech's president, Steger, over the administration's response to the killings and injured students.

Here's a story on it:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070425/ap_on_re_us/virginia_tech_president

I'm confused. In the hours and days after the shooting, the STUDENTS, their PARENTS and many employed with the university called for Steger's post and questioned how he handled this situation. How did THE MEDIA become the ones behind these comments and in turn, warrant comments like this one from the AP story - "It's the nature of the press: Make the worst of any situation. That's what sells."?

Is this truly the nature of the press? How often do reporters think of "what sells" when they are reporting/writing? As journalists, do we report the "blame the media" angle, even when we know it's not true? Do we defend ourselves, such as putting in the comments from students, parents and others that clearly show THEY were asking for Steger's post, or do we just ignore it?
Or is this the usual, "blaming the messenger" thing that we see from people when we report bad news, or we ask officials hard questions about how they handled a dangerous, newsworthy situation?

Any thoughts?

Michele C.