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The End of News

I will issue a fair warning: This is going to be one of THOSE pieces. The kind that in the past have resulted in my being savaged on message boards and my Inbox filled with diatribes. If your sensitivities and emotions are still very raw from recent events read no further.

For those still around, I have instituted a personal blackout on national news. I am watching no more.

It began early Wednesday evening after NBC News discovered that it held the dominant ratings position in the all-important mass murderer demographic. They had received The Package. They claimed to have ‘agonized’ over the decision to run it before deciding that it held evidentiary value, an opinion not shared by those actually investigating the case. It certainly held ratings value.

After spending a period of time claiming that that editorial discussions had been held over whether to run the lunatic rantings of a deranged killer, the decision was made just in time for the Nightly News. What a coincidence. While it seems to me that the proper course of action would be to have made the material available on their Web site for those desiring to see it [and I did, once], that would hardly have provided the ratings blockbuster that all television news organizations have been jockeying for since the first body hit the floor.

Before airing it, Williams pointed out that the reason it had not been aired sooner was that nut case had gotten the address wrong. He went to great pains to give the correct one, presumably so any other fruitcakes inspired to copycat the killer could get their video in sooner. NBC did everything but flash their address on the screen.

Then NBC showed it. And showed it again. And showed it again, and again and again. The other news organizations were quick to follow. There was the madman spouting his garbage over and over, interrupted only by virtually incoherent psychobabble from people far from the situation.

CNN, having been scooped badly in the ‘Give maximum exposure to a crazed mass murderer’ department, responded with a vengeance. They quickly turned into the Cho News Network while executives no doubt held emergency meetings to determine how they could get the next lunatic to send THEM the tape instead.

Beaten badly in the Most Tasteless News Decision category, CNN finally went back to its trusted staple, blaming Tech for everything. Tech’s Poet Laureate and faculty member Nikki Giovanni, whose voice has been the most inspiring during this whole mess, was interviewed by Paula Zahn. Ms. Giovanni refused to rise to the bait of the classless Zahn, insisting that Tech had done what it could. Nikki was in mid-sentence defending Tech when Zahn simply cut her off and went to somebody who would give what was considered the correct response, blaming Tech. Enough was enough.

My remote, which had been used to bounce from news channel to news channel, then pointed me to my old favorite the History Channel. I haven’t watched a second of the national coverage since.

I do continue to watch the local news provided by the Roanoke stations. I also continue to be impressed by the professionalism of both WDBJ and WSLS. They will still be around reporting on Tech long after the networks have moved on to the Next Big Thing.

The actions by the various news networks to exploit the deaths of thirty-two people, all of a far higher quality than any of the so-called ‘journalists,’ have been disgusting. The rabid quests for ratings led them to more and more outrageous actions and statements, finally culminating in NBC News going totally over the top. Life is imitating art, in this case the movie ‘Network.’ I finally got mad as hell and decided not to take it anymore.

I will return to the Virginia Tech campus Saturday to attend the Community Picnic and Reflection Gathering to be held on the Drill Field. It is my understanding that many Tech alumni will make the same journey to both honor the fallen and support their alma mater. Hopefully, all of the news people will be gone. To hell with them.

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