Viewers believe CT shooting media coverage goes too far - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Viewers believe CT shooting media coverage goes too far

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National and local media have extensively covered the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT over the last four days.  But some news consumers believe the media have been irresponsible with some of the coverage.

13abc reporter Bill Hormann wanted to hear from viewers and received many Facebook messages.  He also spoke with a journalism professor from the University of Toledo.

There was a lot of misreporting in the early hours of the shooting tragedy.

Coverage has been wall-to-wall and on social media it's been literally second to second.

Much of the coverage has been compelling but some of the information has been wrong.

Dr. Jackie Layng told 13abc competition among media sparks inaccurate reporting. "Stations and newspapers and online sources rush to get the story so fast that sometimes they're not checking their sources," she said.

Layng has seen reporters sometimes poorly cover this very emotional story.

"We are the watchdogs," she insists.  "It's our job to go out and cover the story, tell people what's going on, but at the same time, we can push the envelope a little into that and start to become almost voyeurs."

For instance,  during a weekend news conference with a coroner, one reporter asked how many times the children were hit by gunfire.
 
Reporting like that sparked outrage from 13abc viewers who wrote on Facebook...

"It is time to let the families mourn in private..."

Another wrote, "All the attention gives a would-be shooter or bomber or killer a reason to think about the fame."

Some viewers have questioned the angles of the story the media cover.  For instance, ABC News ran a story that included this bit of information:

"There are more registered gun dealers and stores than major supermarkets. More gun sellers than McDonald's restaurants."

Sometimes reporters confuse compassion in their coverage with outright editorializing, as CNN reporter Don Lemon did.

"We need to get guns and bullets and automatic weapons off the streets. They should only be available to police officers and to hunt al-qaeda and the taliban and not hunt elementary school children."

Interviewing children also created angry comment by viewers.

One wrote, "Leave out the drama.  Stop talking with the kids and family. They've been through enough."

Another wrote, "I think it's horrid that the media has got cameras in everyone's face."

Doctor Layng admits journalists are walking a fine line between fast, accurate and compassionate information in our 24/7 news cycle.  She says, "It's difficult to try and balance it.  I think most people in the media do that.  Do we always succeed?  No."

The Newtown, Connecticut shooting is an emotional issue.

When kids are involved and there's the fear of copy-cats, everyone is on guard.

And issues of mental health, gun control. and public safety make this a very complicated story to report and to watch.

But media have a sometimes disturbing responsibility to get information.

It is up to readers and viewers to let us know when they think journalists go too far.

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