Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Some observations of the media and the VT shooting

I was in lab the day the shootings happened, and, as usual, checking my yahoo email every couple hours by refreshing my home page. The email page always has a list of headlines of the day, that sometimes I glance at. but just short one-liners. So I first saw this (click to enlarge):

It's interesting, because we are so used to the media telling us how important a news story is, based on the size and typeface of the headline for a particular story. And how big of a picture accompanies it. How many red BREAKING NEWS banners are flashing at us. So I scan these headlines, then think, "Wait. Oh Shit. This is bad. This is huge." Yet this tiny little headline.
Then I go to CNN and there of course is the big headline

I wonder if we got all our news in the exact same format if the most-talked about stories would all still be the same, or if it would force people to think about what IS most important. i.e. not Anna Nicole Smith's baby's paternity test.

What is also interesting is to take a look at the next-day headlines in newspapers around the country and world. There is a very cool site called Newseum that everyday displays the front page of 500+ newspapers from around the world with a high-quality PDF link, and also archives the frontpages of important days in history.

I found a newspaper from Roanoke, the closest big city to V Tech.

Something disturbed me about the presentation here. It was at the top. The "Virginia Tech Shootings: A 12-Page Section". Like they are in competition with the other Roanoke newspaper and need to advertise they have the full-color best special edition coverage of this tragedy for your entertainment. What's more, is it looks strikingly to me like the headline you see on game day. Like they just used the same font and style they did last fall "Virginia-Tech Football vs. UVA: The Rivalry: Special 12 page edition." It even appears to be in V Tech colors.

In Taiwan there was this front page:

Also a bit disturbing, with the cartoon gunman at the bottom and the splashes of blood, one indicating how many victims.

Interestingly, a number of the newspapers from foreign countries did not even mention the shootings from what I could tell at all on the front page.

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