Sunday, December 23, 2012

Solutions from Sandy Hook Sadness (Sensible Media Limitations)

After catching a few minutes of President Obama’s eulogy from Connecticut Monday night, I’ve seen the narrative of last Friday’s tragedy turn fully onto solving the problem of public shootings. I have two small observations to offer. My first was here. Now I offer my second.

With school shootings and such, society is trying its darnedest to figure out how to stop them. More school security? More gun control laws? More mental illness treatment? Although the real problems are the sinfulness of mankind’s nature and the control over earth that the devil has, we still search for ways our society can keep these tragedies from happening.

I have one idea, but I need to give some background first.

When we arrived back in America in summer of this year, Heather and I found ourselves gravitating to the San Diego news channels before bedtime. Somehow, every story on each and every night was practically local tabloids and nothing more. The “headlines” were sex and violence, but not reported in a factual, informational way (which I suppose could be argued is “better” delivery of such news). It was told in a very detailed and opinionated way. The “news” felt more like the old investigative news shows of twenty years ago.

Besides the news being told in a lurid way was the fact that the stories weren’t really newsworthy at all.

I fully understand that the “news” has a long history of being “bad news” about our world. That’s not new. But I was shocked at the focus.

Fast forward to this past weekend. 24/7 on every channel is the reporting of the Sandy Hook shooting. I worked out at the local gym for 75 minutes on Monday, and the entire time the topic was Newton, Connecticut.

Now, imagine you’re a lonely and disturbed individual sitting in front of your television all weekend. You see a criminal young man’s picture everywhere--hailed and upheld as a hideous monster. You see the deceased shooter’s power over the entire world, the negative attention and infamy. The “evil” is put in front of your eyes hour after hour after hour after hour.

Is it so hard to wonder why these shootings are such a trend in Western society?

My “solution”--since everyone is so desperate for answers--is for the media to put a restriction on itself. Only 10 minutes of every hour can be spent on one shooting. Only 20% of any newspaper’s news section or of any website’s front page can be spent on one shooting.

Let’s reduce the celebrity factor for criminals. Let’s stop telling ourselves that our mass mourning in any way helps the individual and affected communities with THEIR grieving process.

I’m not opposed to free media. I’ve seen firsthand in Kenya how harmful that can be to democracy.

But a “tragedy limitation” mandate will not destroy America. Instead, it might help curb the trend of mass shootings.


Kendal Privette said...

great thoughts on the media....i believe we need fundamental change in how/what we report here in the states. just finished your first book tonight - found it at amazon while looking for missionary stories to read. loved it - raw, real. thanks for sharing your life.

Ryan and Heather Murphy said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Kendal. My second book doesn't include all of the culture shock elements but it's probably better written/organized. Blessings!