Why I’m boycotting news reports from Newtown

Media outlets of the world: Please stop reporting that the people of Newtown want their privacy and give them some. It is time for human decency to take precedence over feeding the media machine.

Every photo we see in a newspaper, every interview with a young survivor, every video clip of people embracing outside a funeral home is produced, not to help the people of Newtown, not to help us understand the senseless crime, but to sell newspapers or to keep us tuned into a television station. The 24-hour news cycle is predicated on the need to feed the insatiable machine; to find something new to say. Media stories are designed to make us feel vulnerable so we stay tuned for an answer that never comes.

Let’s just stop. We don’t need to know.

Reporters keep saying : “There are no words.” Perfect, then stop stringing them together in an extraordinary act of voyeurism and exploitation.

Imagine what we are not seeing on our screens: reporters shoulder to shoulder, camera crews lining streets everywhere with telephoto lenses, hotels jammed with reporters from all over the world, researchers harassing families and friends for photos or tidbits of information on the child’s last birthday or upcoming wrestling match.

Is this helping people whose lives have been shattered? These are regular people who packed lunches in the morning for kids who would never return. They deserve to turn to those who can support them without the intrusion of a global 24/7 media frenzy.

People who share in the grief, as I certainly do, can get the information from Newtown’s local media. We can channel our energy not on passive consumption of media and hand-wringing but by making a donation to an organization that helps those who need it locally or in Newtown. The Newtown Patch posted a list of the charities identified by families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Alternatively, what can we do to help those families or families in our neighbourhoods that are struggling? What can we do to influence public policy on mental health or community safety? What can we do to ensure we kiss our kids as they head off to school and hold them tight?

This isn’t the post I thought I’d write before Christmas. I didn’t want to jump on the Sandy Hook bandwagon and contribute to the noise; but every time I turn on the radio, tv or computer or look at a front page I am sickened by the media’s exploitation of this grief. By this time next week they will have moved on to another story so why don’t they just go right now?

Published by Dominique O'Rourke

Public Affairs professional, City Councillor, MA Leadership graduate, problem solver and lifelong learner.

4 thoughts on “Why I’m boycotting news reports from Newtown

  1. Years ago, I began limiting my exposure to the news media machine and am to the point where I might catch 10 minutes every couple of months. The driving reasons were the focus on tragedies and the over-circulation of very limited information.

    The funny thing is that I do not feel uninformed whatsoever. Between the headlines retweeted, comments posted, and actual human discussions; it doesn’t take a genius to figure things out.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and opinions here. I look forward to more.

    1. Hi David,
      Thanks for your comments. I’m still on the fence about where to get my media. I worry about over-selecting media so that I only read things with which I agree. I know that mainstream media is a product designed to keep us hooked on sensational events and images but still gives us a quick overview of what’s deemed important. And, I don’t have a lot of time to read source documents first-hand and to delve into public policy discussions. Fact is, I’m still pretty hooked on newspapers because they allow for more detail and some serendipity. Of course, I like blogs too!
      Thanks again and Happy New Year!

  2. “We can channel our energy not on passive consumption of media and hand-wringing but by making a donation to an organization that helps those who need it locally or in Newtown.”

    Beautiful. Except one has to be cautious donating to “organizations” as we see already what happened to those charitable funds for Sandy (hurricane) victims.

    Great blog! 🙂

    1. Hi Dennis,
      We do need to be cautious donating to organizations but if you stick to registered charities and do a little homework you can trust that your donations are going to the right place. In the case of Newtown, families set up scholarship funds; you could give to the school or to local clubs. It’s probably easier in a small town than was the case with Hurricane Sandy. Thanks for visiting and commenting. I hope you’ll be back soon.

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