On April 15, a horrifying event took place when a pair of terrorists set off two bombs at the Boston Marathon. The 24-hour news outlets covered it all day, reporting on updated death tolls and the like, which was understandable.
But then it got out of hand. The 24-hour news media has gone too far when it comes to over-covering many events.
A day after the bombings, a fertilizer plant exploded in Texas. It killed, injured and destroyed much more than the bombings, but it was overshadowed by news of the Boston attack. Talking heads went on air throughout the week to blame left-wing radicals, right-wing radicals, President Barack Obama and Muslim extremists before anyone even had any information that would reliably indicate a culprit or a motive. Prominent people even made up theories involving the fact that it was Patriots’ Day and Tax Day.
The media had so much spare airtime on their hands that when the suspects were identified, they tracked down family members as far away as Canada and Maryland to hear them call the men both “no good” and “angels.” Some family members were even given free airtime to accuse the U.S. government of framing the two men who were caught on camera and evading police.
Then, on Friday, the news agencies were out on the street in Massachusetts while the police were attempting to flush out the final terrorist, but there was not really a lot happening throughout the day. Sure, some cities were locked down as police combed the area, but there weren’t enough breaking events to justify the all-day, virtually uninterrupted coverage. At one point, when Fox News was moved to an area away from a house that was surrounded, they just started showing meaningless shots of the empty streets and repeated the same information a number of times.
While this was a horrific event that deserved a lot of coverage, it should not have gotten most of the
non-stop coverage it did. A lot of the time spent was just wasted airtime, which could have been used elsewhere, covering other stories. The lack of coverage given to almost everything else going on in the U.S. is also alarming because life does not stop for the rest of the country.
The 24-hour news outlets’ over-coverage of tragedies like this one is impractical and has a number of negative consequences for our nation.
And what effect does this have to the viewing public? It is common knowledge that the more you are exposed to something, the less it affects you. So when you have needless extra coverage of an event like this one, aren’t you just desensitizing the public to it and making it a spectacle?
Shouldn’t events like this be different? Shouldn’t we feel emotionally connected when lives are lost in such a tragic way?