Because You’re On Television, Dummy

A proposed change in editorial policy for, one might hope, one of the major 24-hour news grinders.


“[Network Name Here] realizes that one of the driving forces of tragic events such as the recent mass shootings in Connecticut, Colorado, and upstate New York to name a few is unrelenting news coverage. It is clear that one thing that motivates these people is that they desperately hope to get their names up in lights. And we need to fill a tremendous news vacuum, and we need eyeballs on us instead of the other guys, so we report the living hell out of it. And this is how we have done it for years. And the mass shootings continue ad nauseam.

“Well, no more. Starting today, [Network Name Here] is introducing a new editorial policy. We will no longer provide wall-to-wall coverage of mass shootings in the United States. We will adopt more traditional journalistic guidelines: Unless the perpetrator is arrested or is on trial, we will not broadcast their pictures and we will not report their names. We will tread equally carefully in our reporting about the victims. We will do our best to report the five W’s regarding these events and to fulfill our obligation to inform the public. But we will endeavor to balance this obligation against our obligation to avoid sloshing fuel onto the fire.

“In fact, as a televised news medium, we are taking one extra step to ensure that our coverage of mass shootings in America is bland and uninspiring, but nonetheless informative. For the time being, coverage of such events, at least in the immediate aftermath, will be broadcast not in color, but in black-and-white. Such hideous acts do not deserve to be brought to you in color and their perpetrators do not deserve to be viewed with such brilliance.

“To those of you who may be pondering or even planning yet another little Armageddon in America, know this: On our air at least, you will not be lionized, and if you die in carrying out your hellish deed, you will not be gibbeted, at least not by [Network Name Here]. We will approach your story as would Joe Friday—just the facts. We will report the news, but we will do everything in our power to deny you the infamy you seek.

“We will report the news. That is all.”

I wonder if that might put a dent in all this nonsense.

(I’ll tell you what. If Fox “News” opted to go with this, I’d even throw a few points their way.)

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