Keeping up with the news

I supported the sensationalist news media just now by watching part of that video released by the Virginia Tech gunman. (By the way, I was shocked to find the video preceded by an ad for Swiffer. Are they actually sponsoring this crap, or do they just sponsor the video feed regardless of what the feed contains?) It was a bit chilling to put a face and a voice on somebody who’s known to be a mass killer. But it probably wasn’t the first time I’ve been made familiar with such a person. Murderers get too much face time on TV, too much ink the press. I don’t know if there’s any logical argument against doing that; it just bugs me that murderers become celebrities of a sort. Partly it’s because they don’t deserve fame, but another reason is that it’s symptomatic of the media’s focus on the negative and sensational. I may have watched that video and read a couple articles about the VT incident, but at least I haven’t read the “timeline of events” from that day. Shouldn’t they be allowed to grieve in peace?

I was going to complain now about how tragic events that affect a family or a community become the whole nation’s business. It’s okay to feel sad when something horrible happens to a fellow human, of course, but when those incidents are plastered all over the news, taking time away from news that has real bearing on our lives, it seems like pure sensationalism. I’m not sure if a school shooting is different from, say, the kidnap and murder of a single person. I was going to say that it’s okay for a school shooting to receive a lot of coverage because … we all go to or have gone to school … and we can relate. (?) But I can’t really formulate that argument.

What has knowledge of the VT shooting done for me, as a college student? It has shocked me and made me wonder how a person can be so callous as to take 32 lives—in a single day! I’ve imagined the horror of being locked in a classroom with that person (further details aren’t necessary). Maybe I’m supposed to take it as being symptomatic of our societal ills; maybe I’m supposed to be more afraid of the world, and less trusting of people; maybe I’m supposed to write to my Congressman to argue for stricter gun controls. But I don’t really have any of those responses to it. This incident just further illustrates the fact that in this sea of humanity there are a handful (at least) of crazies and cold-blooded killers. There always will be. We can’t legislate them into non-existence, or live in fear of them…. By the way, don’t take this to mean that I don’t favor gun control. I hate guns.

I want to pay more attention to national and global news. I want to know the important things that are going on. Right now I get most of my news from Fark.com. (How sad is that?) I shy away from mainstream outlets because they’re saturated wth sensationalist news. (It annoys me to see Anna Nicole Smith grab the top headlines in major newspapers.) I’d like to search for the “real news,” but that means something different to every person. Every source has to have some kind of bias. I need to suck it up, read a newspaper and look for the stories that I think are important. I can educate myself about the world instead of waiting for somebody to inform me of all the things I want to know about. Don’t ask me, yet, what it is that I think is important and what I want to know about. I haven’t quite figured it out. I don’t have much practice in being a critical consumer of news.

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