Letter: Race for ratings exploits victims

The journalists’ ink is barely dry, tears still wet our cheeks, and anger and sadness compete for space within us.

From this, we adults conform to a predictable, and inane, routine of shouting talking points at each other, neither side listening to the views of the other and with seemingly no desire for collaboration or compromise. And while all of this is going on, a more disturbing dynamic occurs under our noses in the aftermath of yet another mass shooting at a public school in America: the exploitation of young victims in the name of journalism and ratings.

It appalls me that broadcast and cable news organizations so freely put young middle school and high school students in front of cameras so soon after an incident. In many cases what we witness is a human being, without even the benefit of yet reaching full physical or emotional maturity, in the very early stages of processing psychological trauma in front of an audience of millions. Technically, that may be defined by free press journalists as news, but at what cost to the child? At what cost to our sense of decency as a society? And what do we really learn that we didn’t already know? Do we really have a “right to know” everything that a young victim thinks they are feeling when they are obviously still processing their thoughts and emotions?

I am not advocating censorship of the media. What I am advocating is responsible reporting instead of a race for ratings. Responsible reporting will only happen, eventually, if viewers consistently demand it.

Michael Blass, Russells Point

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