From manslaughter to media sensation


In a world filled with a never-ending stream of violent crimes, it seems as though the media always finds a way to keep the drama going.

The story of Ethan Couch is the perfect example.

The now 19-year-old’s name may sound familiar, but you probably know him better as the “affluenza” teen.

Couch, then 16, made major headlines when he received 10 years probation after being convicted of killing four people and paralyzing one while drunk driving.

The real story came after a psychologist testified for the defense that Couch should receive a lighter sentence because he was a victim of “affluenza.” Spelled out, this basically means he was a spoiled rich kid whose parents never set limits for him, therefore he didn’t understand the consequences for his actions.

This one word added to the perfect storm that already was Couch’s case: erratic parents, mental illness, lots of money and lots of drugs, just to name a few variables.

Very few news outlets neglected to mention the fact that Couch’s sentence is consistent with the norm as “very infrequently does a nonviolent, non-intentional crime land a juvenile in jail,” said Michael Yanof, one of Couch’s attorney’s.

Since the incident, Couch has been no stranger to headlines due to a series of parole violations. From a video of him at a party to a desperate flee to Mexico that landed him in jail. The media has continuously publicized this real-life Lifetime movie.

And this week, Couch is making headlines because, per the terms of his probation, a judge sentenced him to two years of jail time. This was always a possibility as a CNN article explained that “Tarrant County Prosecutor Riley Shaw has said the time to punish Couch for probation violations as a juvenile effectively expired when he turned 19.”

From a journalistic standpoint, it’s time to consider at what point this constant crime-reporting goes too far?

The details of the car crash are gruesome and lengthy. Couch’s actions have had far-reaching consequences on many people. Not to mention the families of the victims were extremely upset at what they considered to be Couch’s very light sentence.

While journalists have the total right to publish these kinds of stories, it’s important to question how to attain balance between reporting news and respecting the victims of any crime, no matter how horrific.

Slimane breaks up with Saint Laurent


Hedi Slimane showed relationships really are messy for everyone after mega-fashion house Saint Lauren announced that he’s stepping down as image and creative director.

The house released a press release last Friday stating “at the end of a four-year mission, which has led to the complete repositioning of the brand, the Maison Yves Saint Laurent announces the departure of Hedi Slimane.”

On Monday, the brand’s Instagram made a drastic decision and purged itself of all things Slimane. The designer often posted pictures of everything from high-profile models in Saint Laurent clothing to palm trees branded with the Saint Laurent logo.

The rocky break-up comes as no surprise to fashion followers. Slimane’s long been in the face of controversy during his four-year relationship with the house. Rumors about his departure have been circulating all year.

Slimane time there was host to several milestones. He doubled Saint Laurent’s revenues to $787 million and completely relaunched the house’s identity.

Once known as Yves Saint Laurent, Slimane created a much more wearable brand. While this is what accounts for the brand’s huge revenue increase, it was the cause of widespread criticism of his supposed lack of originality.

The new Saint Laurent Instagram solely featuring a picture of Vacarello.

The new Saint Laurent Instagram solely featuring a picture of Vacarello.

The brand took to Instagram yet again to issue another blow to Slimane by reclaiming the acronym “YSL” in their bio. This outright reverses Slimane’s decision to drop the “Yves” from the label’s name.

As reproach for the fashion industry’s use of frail models increases, Slimane always stayed true to himself and worked almost exclusively with rail thin men and women. This decision was disapproved by many and contributed to his controversy.

While this relationship and subsequent breakup has certainly been tumultuous, it likely will sizzle out soon. Slimane has remained characteristically private throughout the entire ordeal.

The next big story out of Saint Laurent will center around where the house’s new creative director, Anthony Vacarello, will take the brand.

Millennial’s redefining ‘breaking news’


Early Tuesday morning, ISIS carried out three attacks in Brussels, Belgium. Immediately after, the news media began reporting on the details showing the world how the term “breaking news” is being redefined.

It’s no secret that the technological advances in the last 10 years have had groundbreaking effects on how news outlets function. And it’s even less of a secret that Millennials are glued to their phones.

The news media took note of this fact. And with sales of print news outlets declining, they responded with an increase in revolutionary websites and apps that can be accessed almost anywhere.

The effects of this new industry are obvious. A Millennial myself, I check my phone as soon as I wake up. This morning, I instantly noticed eight CNN notifications on my screen, an immediate signal that a major news story had broken.

At 3:29 a.m., 8:29 a.m. Brussels time, the first notification of a suspected terrorist attack was sent out by CNN to it’s mobile-app subscribers: “There are reports of two explosions at the airport in Brussels, Belgium, according to CNN affiliate VTM.”

According to a TIME report, the attacks occurred around 8 a.m. In less than 30 minutes, the entire world was notified of the actions of one terrorist group.

The live updates didn’t stop there. A number of my mobile notifications were less than one hour apart.

Furthermore, all major news outlets were also reporting on live updates, on-site pictures, videos and interviews to report on the attacks in more detail.

Magazines not typically associated with reporting on serious news stories like Vogue and People made use of the unlimited space offered on the Internet. Both had articles featuring updates of the situation in Brussels.

Social media outlets like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr showed similar responses to those seen in the aftermath of the Paris attacks last year. Most notably, Facebook’s Safety Check feature was once again activated.

The reason that all of these advances in both the immediacy and participation in the notion of breaking news are possible is because of widespread usage and dependence on technology.

Millennials are too often criticized for their dependence on their smartphones and social media. But without these markets they’ve created, these advances would’ve never been made. There simply would’ve been no need.

An inside look at North Korea


This week, a London tourist has illustrated the power a picture holds by giving a face to the people living in the world’s most restrictive country — North Korea.

Amateur photographer Michal Huniewicz posted two sets of photographs on his blog documenting his time in North Korea’s capital city, Pyongyang.

The pictures have been shared on his Facebook, Twitter, a variety of Instagram accounts and new sites such as CNN.

The significance of these smuggled photos comes from the strict rules governing tourist photography in North Korea. The bulk images and videos the public sees are products of the government.

While the majority of Huniewicz’s photos were acceptable, he admitted that some were taken against the wishes of his guides or as he calls them, his “government minders.”

The timing of the photos release could not be more perfect. Recently, North Korea has been receiving more news media attention than usual as it continues to develop its nuclear program and face sanctions from the United Nations. It is crucial now more than ever that the rest of the world grasp that behind Kim Jong-un, there are millions of helpless people.

In a culture where criticism of society’s growing news media dependence is often harsh, Huniewicz’s collection shows how powerful a tool it is, particularly social media. It shows that we cannot take for granted the ability to freely capture and share photos. It is a tool that helps protect against the human rights violations that are rampant in North Korea.

Furthermore, North Korea may be one of the few places in the world where everyday life has been practically untouched by the outside media. Huniewicz’s photographs and his accompanying narrative help to better show the restrictions of life living under a dictatorship. Censorship was rampant during his trip and Huniewicz’s noted that many of the sights felt staged.

“You have to be fast. Soon we noticed that while Pyongyang is meant to be a utopian showcase for foreign visitors … there are more glamorous bits, and there are less glamorous bits. What’s more, our mute driver was perfectly aware of this, so he would conveniently slow down whenever the surroundings were impressive, and speed up whenever they were less pleasant, to make them less pleasant,” Huniewicz wrote on his blog.

The majority of Huniewicz’s photos are scenes from everyday life that have the eerie look of being performed. Tour groups are not allowed to go anywhere, or even be left alone, without their guides. And it seems as though everyone is in on the act.

For more of Huniewicz’s collection of photos from all his travels, visit his website.

National security and news media


This week, Americans were able to finally see results of the United States constant struggle against ISIS when the U.S. Special Operatives forces detained their first assumed ISIS prisoner.

But the success is clouded in secrecy, leaving the news media with little information to publish and the public with many unanswered questions. With the war on terror seeming to only become more intense, this sparks the debate as to what balance the news media should take as the fight wages on. How much information should the public demand?

At a press conference earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated that “I can’t discuss the details of any missions, particularly when it comes to risking operational security.”

The withheld information included the detainee’s identity, the location of the interrogation, the U.S. officials who spoke to the press, as well as whether or not he has cooperated with interrogators.

This information is arguably not critical knowledge for the American public and the sensitivity of the matter is clear. But a trend towards acceptance of information pertaining to groups that threaten the U.S. public from the media and the American people could be dangerous.

While national security must always come first, the news media will soon have to make harder decisions as to when to push to release more information that the public may need to know and when to decide to respect the government’s decision to withhold information.

‘Devil’s drug’ needs media attention


Since 2014, the designer drug flakka has silently terrorized the streets of South Florida. With the number of users rising throughout the U.S., flakka needs national media attention now more than ever.

Flakka is a highly addictive synthetic drug. According to, side effects include paranoia, hyperstimulation, and hallucinations that can lead to “violent aggression and self-injury. The drug has been linked to deaths by suicide and heart attack.”

Other side effects include super-human strength, a likely result of an adrenaline rush. Also users are known to strip naked due to a massive rise in body temperatures associated with the drugs consumption.

Flakka’s biggest threat is that the U.S. population is under the assumption that the drug’s usage is contained to South Florida, where it is by far the most concentrated. Because of this, news media coverage has been vastly limited to local South Florida news organizations such as The Miami Herald, The Palm Beach Post, and The Sun Sentinel.

Flakka usage is spreading quickly and the lack of media coverage leaves many people in danger, particularly young people in poor urban neighborhoods. Flakka is particularly accessible to this group because it’s so cheap. Without any education from the national press, thousands of people are in danger. According to, flakka usage has spread to Chicago, Texas, Kentucky and Ohio. The drug is only growing more popular, especially with the lack of education nationwide.

One example of the grave disparities in flakka’s news media coverage compared to other drugs was in early 2014 when the DEA officially categorized it as a Schedule 1 drug. Despite the importance of this, the news did not make any major national headlines.

Less traditional forms of media have been more prominent in the coverage of the drug. YouTube has a variety of videos about flakka. Some videos were educational, while the majority were recordings of people high on the drug. These videos had thousands of views, with some of them even having millions. The population clearly has an interest in flakka and is seeking out more information.

The need for public education about flakka is evident. While flakka is not a nationwide issue yet, it is already well on its way. The duty is on the news media to provide coverage about this silent killer because they’re the best equipped to handle the potential crisis.

The chaotic life of Kanye


Last week, Kanye West kicked off New York Fashion Week with his revolutionary Yeezy Season Three sold-out fashion show and listening party for his new album, “The Life of Pablo,” in Madison Square Garden. But people all over the world were able to score an inside look at the event thanks to today’s media coverage.

In the aftermath of the over-the-top show, the media have spent the past week proving that technology is making fashion and celebrities more accessible than ever before.

Both fashion and traditional news websites began sharing articles featuring pictures and videos from the show that day. Then, the news media focused on West’s outrageous rule list given to models that was leaked through SnapChat and Instagram. Finally, West himself took advantage of the media’s power by announcing that his album would only be available through his subscription-based website and Tidal.

According to its website, Tidal is a “high fidelity music streaming” service. Tidal was also the only website that had access to a live stream of West’s show.

This past week, West has been unable to stay out of the news media. His notorious Tweets made headlines on websites like after he claimed to in $52 million worth of personal debt and pleaded with Mark Zuckerberg to donate $1 billion in order to fund his continuous stream of business ventures.

Most recently, the feud between West and Taylor Swift was resurfaced after headlines reported that Swift responded to a lyric in one his new songs about her as being “misogynistic.”

As of Wednesday, news media, particularly online websites as most traditional gossip magazines aren’t published until Friday, have now been running with a leaked recording of West ranting and calling out Swift backstage at “Saturday Night Live” before his performance for the show.

Mega-celebrities such as West, as well as over-the-top fashion brands, are normally inaccessible to the majority of the population. But with the increasing usage and development of social media, they are now becoming a greater part of our everyday lives.

As the population continues its fascination with these once distant concepts, they are becoming more concentrated in traditional new outlets that used to be reserved only for topics of practical importance.

The news media’s normalization of things that used to be such strong symbols of wealth and success begs the question of what will happen to the notion of exclusivity as it becomes more and more available to not just the American public, but the world.

The Pacific solution: Paradise or prison?


This week, thousands of Americans were given a very personal look into controversial Australian detention centers that have kept hundreds of refuges from gaining asylum.

Hailed by the Australian government as the “Pacific Solution,” the detention centers opened in 2001. Located in Naru and Manus Island in Papa New Guinea, they were created as a response to the increasing number of people seeking asylum in Australia by crossing international waters.

From the beginning, controversy has surrounded the extremely isolated centers. While it is difficult for those held there to speak out, reports of beatings by officers, rape and violence between refuges continue to surface.

The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and Australian citizens have all condemned the Australian policy due to what can best be called the camp conditions.

According to BuzzFeed News, in 2014 a report from the Australian Senate committee gathered overwhelming accounts of the horrible conditions including dead flies in the food, overflowing toilets, abuse by guards, and detainees suffering heatstroke while waiting for food.

With the influx of refugees becoming a powerful international issue, it’s surprising that both the American news media and public have devoted such little attention to the Australian policy. Little recent information can be found about the detention centers, especially not from major U.S. news outlets.

This comes as both especially surprising and disappointing since, as of Feb. 6, the company operate the centers, Broadspectrum, extended its contract for another year. With another five-year lease, this does not come as a hopeful development to those against the policy.

As debates about what the solution is for handling immigrants and fears of terrorism rise internationally, the detention centers show no signs of closing soon. Hopefully, the American public will identify with the cause before the situation worsens.

Questions remain unanswered in murder


This week, all major news outlets have kept audiences closely following the case of 13-year-old Nicole Lovell. The story made national headlines after two Virginia Tech students were charged with her murder on Jan. 29.

When the story broke, media focused on college athlete David Eisenhauer due to his immaculate record, school involvement, and young age. Eisenhauer, 18, is now charged with kidnapping and first-degree murder after Lovell’s body was found after an apparent stabbing earlier this week.

The press has focused increasingly less on Eisenhauer’s accomplice, 19-year-old Natalie Keepers, as the story develops. Instead, the media have turned their attention to the alleged romantic relationship between Eisenhauer and Lovell.

But both law enforcement officials and prosecutors on the case have remained firm in their decision to withhold details of the case to the media, especially in regards to the pair’s relationship.

According to, in order to protect the integrity of the investigation, the prosecutor’s office would release no “additional factual information outside of the courtroom.”

The most likely reason for the withholding of details is out of respect for Lovell’s age. But today, messenger app Kik became involved after announcing that the company turned over information to the FBI. The announcement launched a new field of questions that the media have been unable to provide answers to.

Kik is suspected to be how Lovell met her “boyfriend” and alleged murderer Eisenhauer around Jan. 4, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Kik’s involvement has created speculation among audiences in terms of a motive for the killing. Some believe that Lovell was planning to reveal her relationship with Eisenhauer, thus leading to her death.

As the case develops, the public is left wondering critical questions such as Eisenhauer’s motive, details about the victim’s relationship with Eisenhauer, and what led Lovell to sneak out of her room that night.

While new questions are being raised everyday, the amount left unanswered will only continue to grow. Now that the basic information surrounding the murder have been released, it appears as though officials will continue with the trend and only slow the amount information being published.