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Media frenzy goes too far

Jan. 21, 1997

The issue:

The headlong rush of the media after stories can blind their good judgement

Her view:

News media should examine what they determine to be newsworthy.

Lisa Zapata

Lariat staff writer

Recently, there has been some debate in the media circuit concerning how far media should go to get the news.

I read with disgust about reporters from The Globe, a national tabloid, publishing crime scene photos of JonBenet Ramsey, the 6-year-old beauty queen who was brutally murdered in her own home in Boulder, Colo.

Regardless of how eye catching these photos may have been, these were pictures of a little girl who lost her life at a very young age. These were not only printed in bad taste, but they may have jeopardized the investigation into her murder.

As a reporter, I look for the truth, and I am always searching for stories that are relevant and interesting to the public. However, it is not my job or any reporters job violate anyone like The Globe did to the Ramsey family.

Another recent media circus surrounded Michael Irvin and Erik Williams. I'm sure you have heard of the two Dallas Cowboy football players who were accused of being involved in the rape of a young woman.

The two were convicted by the media before they were even charged with the crime. The general public was not even allowed the respect of deciding for themselves if the men were guilty. The public was handed a verdict by the media. I agree it was newsworthy to report the allegations, but commentary, before the two players were even charged with a crime wasunprofessional. I realize that people make mistakes, and the media has given due attention to the arrest of the woman for making the false report.

However, the media consistently takes it upon themselves to not only be the eyes and ears of the public, but to also make up our minds for us.

Many readers are probably wondering why a journalist is speaking such blasphemy towards her own prospective profession. I feel that news is important, and the media has a right to an opinion, but not until the full truth has been told. It is our job as watchdogs to report the truth, not make it up.

Newspapers and news programs constantly show photos of dead bodies, blood, and pornography. I am not saying that murder isn't newsworthy; people have to know if a psycho is on the loose, but we don't have to see the blood stained crime scene on the five o'clock news.

Citizens across the nation argue about books, movies, and music that should be banned and destroyed so that children will not have to be subjected to such atrocities. However, in many cities, all you have to do is pick up the Sunday paper or turn on the six o'clock news and children are subjected to just that.

With this in mind, you rarely see or read news about people accomplishing great things or giving to their fellow man except on the inside pages of the newspaper or the fifth story on the nightly news. One rarely sees heroism being performed by a member of our community as top story of the day.

My intention is not to attack those newspapers and news shows that report all the great things that happen in their cities.

I would also like to take this opportunity to applaud the grocery chains that sent back The Globe issue containing the crime scene pictures of JonBenet Ramsey.

I also understand that media is a business and they have to print what sells. This is why I am making a plea to the general public to buy those papers that print the news accurately, effectively and in good taste.

News is not always fun and pretty, but it can be reported tactfully.

The news is meant to be a public service not a public freak show.

I urge the media and the general public to look closely at what they should and should not deem newsworthy.

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