Another Choice Item from Le Buffet de Stupide

Via Romenesko: Racism? Classism? Random act of journalistic stupidity and shallowness retconned by press critics trying to justify the unjustfiable? Nah.

It’s just all about the visuals, man.

Because Columbine is a Denver suburb, news cameras reached the school while kids were still running to safety. The dramatic video is still being shown six years later.

Red Lake is five hours north of the Twin Cities. By the time news crews reached the reservation, the shootings had ended. Then tribal authorities severely limited access to the reservation by journalists.

Among Minnesota reporters, Red Lake is not known for welcoming media coverage. During a 1979 outbreak of violence on the reservation, a news helicopter was hit by gunfire, although it didn’t crash, said Gary Hill, special projects manager for KSTP. Two photographers this week were arrested and handcuffed by tribal police for taking pictures in a place that authorities had ruled off-limits.

“Television needs images,” Hill said. “We need people on camera talking. The tribal authorities’ stance did make it difficult to get to the people who could tell their stories.”

The reaction journalism Prof. Jay Rosen of New York University had to the Columbine-Red Lake comparison turned the whole premise on its head. “Columbine was a media frenzy,” he said. “It was overdone. Red Lake is a media frenzy. If this is a smaller media frenzy, I’m not going to get too upset about it, and I think activists who are asking for a bigger media frenzy have found a strange way of advancing the interests of their group.”

Let’s break down the horseshit, working backwards, in order. As if the only choice was a “media frenzy” which would serve no purpose at all, or no meaningful coverage whatsoever. As if those were the options. Nobodys asking for a frenzy, Dr. Rosen. From what I’ve seen, people during Columbine and right now are asking for meaningful reporting which will explore the issues that gave rise to this tragedy. Now, as then, I expect, they’ll be disappointed.

And now, suddenly, we have the argument that a story shouldn’t be told because it’s hard to tell. Or that because vacuous TV news twinks can’t get quotes from people by shoving cameras in their faces and asking “how do you feel?” it’s somehow the story’s subjects’ fault they’re not being treated like human beings. I love this argument. Here’s a solution. Try covering places like Red Lake before major crime forces you to. Then you won’t be stumbling around, looking lost, and acting like people owe you their reactions and their stories just because you managed to make it out from the big city for a day. God, I hate parachute journalism, but more than that, I hate the attitude on the part of its practitioners that it’s their right to bumble in completely ignorant of a community and get the respect due the people who live there every day long after the New York Times has packed up and gone home.

And then we have the timing argument. So a story only deserves exploration and play if you show up while it’s happening? Pinky, by that count, half the shit in two thirds of this nation’s newspapers shouldn’t be covered, because the dipshits trying to cover it were late and made the DA repeat the whole press conference just for their benefit. In the name of the little Baby Jesus who’s now reaching for his shotgun, have some pride.

Higher up in the article, the writer actually uses the justification that Red Lake’s shootings happened “after the horrors of school shootings has become more common.”

So I guess only the first dead kids really mattered.