Sensationalizing tragedy on television


The story at the forefront of American news media this week has been the horrific shooting that occurred in Las Vegas Sunday night. A final count of 58 people were killed and more than 500 were injured in the massacre. And yet, the news media embraces the violence as if it were a great show.

You know the teasers: “Tonight at 11, what is in your refrigerator that may be poisoning your food? Find out on the *insert local station* nightly news.” *intense sound effect*

These teasers, while quite reminiscent of Internet click-bait, are all well and good with such a story as the fabricated example above. However, this week the news, and specifically 24-hour news channels such as CNN or Fox News, have been teasing their stories out of Las Vegas in that manner.

It is sickening. It reminds me of the film “Nightcrawler” starring Jake Gyllenhal, who is a multimedia journalist taping gruesome crime scenes and worrying only about the “shot” but never the victims involved. And his station encourages it.

But this is real life, not a movie. As if the deaths of 58 Americans in the largest mass shooting in this nation’s history weren’t attention-grabbing enough, now news programming feels that they need to entice the viewer with dramatic music and sensational latest reports out of Las Vegas.

The hundreds of families and friends affected, as well as all of us innocent, confused Americans, could do without the 24-hour news cycle pushing a traumatic event like this down our throats as if it were a movie trailer.

While average Americans are trying to wrap their heads around such a terrifying event and go on with their days, the media is lapping it up, hyping up the fact that the shooting is now deadliest in U.S. history, and has racked up more deaths than the Orlando night club shooting.

Sensationalizing tragedy is not appealing. It should not earn viewers and in turn earn more money. Unfortunately, the news seems to believe in it, and we are living in a time of glorifying horror on television.