The rise of the 24 hour news cycle has ushered in a new era of entertainment. What was once boiled down to an hour of the most important and pressing issues one would need before facing the day, has been mutated into a never ending farce of desensitized violence and talking heads. A field that was originally filled with the brightest journalists the world had to offer has instead been shanghaied by makeup caked pundits trying to push their respective political agendas. The United States has seen a decline in the general education of their youth, where adolescents are pushed too more plush forms of news such as summary articles on social media.
Viewers become much more attracted to sensationalized media that can attract the most shares based off a shock value. As a result those who would wish to do the unspeakable, most horrible crimes now have their outlet. It has been seen time and time again how those wanting to commit violent public crime have been wanting to have their motives very visible. In Charleston, the white supremacist who murdered nine innocent church goers in cold blood had his wish fulfilled when CNN showed nonstop coverage of his crime, detailing every bit of his life and his beliefs. The same is true in Virginia where a disgruntled former employee murdered two journalists while on air. The shooter made his true intentions clear when moments after gunning down his former coworkers, he posted a video to his twitter account with every detail of his heinous act. Once again the media spent the first two days of their nonstop news cycle detailing the shooter’s lifestyle, history, and even his opinion of current events.
There has recently been a move to try and instead focus the media coverage on the victims rather than the assailants. This is a step towards progress, but it’s not enough. A former Associated Press reporter recently explained the real issue with American news media; it’s bloodless. He described how in every other country acts of violence are covered differently than they are in the United States. After the Charlie Hebdo shootings in France, American media, once again, sensationalized the shooters, their motives, their organizations, their weapons, and every other meaningless detail that helps the attackers rather than the victims. French media treated it differently. French media showed the blood, the bodies, the shell casings, the bullet holes and blast marks on the office, and then championed the work that the slain journalists had done. In the United States we have this fetish for violence in our movies, television, video games, and literature, yet as soon as the fiction becomes reality we show none of it; in a sense trying to preserve this idyllic version of America free from mental illness or racism. It’s as if we have this never ending hunger for media, for sensation, yet we never want to see the blood, or the bodies, for it might disturb someone and give them what they want. The shooters were given what they wanted the moment CNN broadcast their face and name on the screen, it’s the dead that we do a disservice too when we don’t avenge them.