I was sitting in a lounge at JFK Airport after attending an intensive two-week institute on news literacy.
But as I sat there, the coverage of the tragedy of the massacre in Aurora, Colorado dominated the two televisions. And justifiably so.
As state and local officials try to make sense, if that’s possible, of what is unfolding, I couldn’t help but watch the reaction of people around me. A mom and her kids glanced up every so often, while two of her kids glance up and then go back to playing with their phones.
Another couple glanced up and went back to their routine.
Have we become desensitized to these kinds of acts of violence? It was a movie theater for crying out loud.
My kids, your kids, our neighbors could have been in a movie theater watching a movie premier. Just what are we becoming?
As we discussed during the Institute, the once dissemination of information by reputable and trained journalists has turned into a free-for-all by anyone with a cell phone, Twitter or Facebook account.
It’s no longer what’s right, but what’s first. It’s all about “me” -- can I get this on to Twitter first? Can my cell phone video make the news?
Who cares if it’s not right? Who cares if it counters accurate information?
It seems as though the “slow down and look at the accident” mentality has permeated into mainstream society. Yes, we’re stunned, shocked and appalled by heinous acts like those in Aurora, Colorado, Chardon, Ohio, Virginia Tech University, and, of course, Columbine. But yet every time we face another massacre, the first thing we hear is “it’s the worse in American history.”
It’s record setting event every time; one which we get used to hearing about. In fact, we’re so used to it – we Tweet it, post it and text it – almost to a fault – so much so that during his press conference, Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates urged caution about information being disseminated via social media. According to some reports, misinformation via social media was rampant. It has become such a “routine” Matt Pearce of the LA Times wrote about it Friday afternoon (http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-colorado-shooting-social-media-20120720,0,1633530.story).
It just seems that before rush to tweet their tweets and update their Facebook statuses, one thing needs to be done.
Think about the victims and their families.