EDITORíS DESK: Anti-fear mongering
Never before has a letter to the Gazette inspired a column topic here, but never say never. The piece in today's daily (April 18) by Bob Mulvaney touches on my greatest aggravation about the news business, which is the knee-jerk sensationalizing of anything scary and hurtful. Have you noticed, for example, how
often that creep who killed so many people at the Aurora theater gets his picture in the paper? Including the Gazette, I might add. So Mulvaney's letter seemed especially timely in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing that probably left most of us seething with indignation and rage.
Here's an excerpt: "The terrorist explodes a bomb causing the injury and death of innocent persons in an unexpected location. This instills fear in the population. The media rush to the scene to complete the job. They will spend the next five days explaining to the public what a great job the terrorist did. The terrorist could not ask for or pay for this kind of cooperation in spreading fear." The letter concludes with this paragraph: "We need to tell the media to 'stop it.' When an incident happens, tell us what happen[ed] without embellishing the facts, keep us informed on new developments and move on."
We actually have our own fear-inducing topic here on the Westside. That's the increased flooding possibility in the Camp and South Douglas Creek drainages. Sometimes jarring facts can't be avoided, but there's got to be a line somewhere between writing useful stories (like the public process that will start soon on future Camp Creek improvements) and alarming people with horror stories (for example, the 1935 flood with its washed-out bridges). So far, I don't think the big media has been too outrageous on that count. But just wait till we get closer to the summer rains and the "watch" begins, with Mother Nature portrayed as a fickle sort of terrorist and residents being asked how scared they are. One thing is certain: If a big flood does occur, those media will swoop down on Pleasant Valley like vultures. But maybe Bob Mulvaney can write another letter...