Virginia Tech Killings: Have NBC and the media gone too far this time?

Is it just me or does anyone else think that NBC were wrong to publish the sick portfolio that was sent to them by the Virginia Tech killer in the midst of his killing spree? The images and rambling monologue suffused with paranoia have created a chilling lasting portrait of the killer Cho Seung-Hui, that will stain the memory of all who witnessed it for a very long time.

But does the world need to be haunted by the spectre of this mentally ill individual preparing to kill? Or should we have been protected and not subjected to this?

Some may argue that we have a choice whether to view the material but the truth is, very often… we don’t! I got on the bus yesterday and everyone was reading the newspapers so I had a view of the hammer welding nut staring at me for a large part of my journey from other passenger’s newspapers. I went to the shop to get some milk and, lo and behold, I had the killer pointing a gun directly at me from the front page of one of the tabloids on the newspaper shelf. I turned on the television and before I had a chance to make a decision the channel was displaying a menacing shot of the bastard with a knife to his neck.

NBC News President Steve Capus has defended the broadcast of the material, saying:

“This is I think as close as we will ever come to being inside of the mind of a killer.”

Is this right? Does anyone else think that NBC should have handed the entire package that they received to the police and censored its contents to protect the families of the dead? After all, surely there comes a time when, exclusive or not, morality has to come into play? Is this the type of world we want to live in, where a person commits a terrible act of crazed atrocity, killing person after person in cold blood and is then given a platform to speak to the world from beyond the grave?

Cho’s video manifesto brandishing guns and ranting at times should never have seen daylight yet incoherently it has drawn wall-to-wall U.S. news coverage and the UK media have mirrored this coverage eager to be associated with the “exclusive” material.

The long and short of it is, this sick individual in death has become virtually a household name. His face and words broadcast across the globe yesterday and for what? For committing one of the worst acts of violence ever recorded – Killing 32 innocent individuals in a killing spree of unprecedented proportions!

Still grieving, students at the university have already expressed their deep disgust at self-made photos and the disturbing video the killer posted to NBC News on Monday. Families of victims were so upset at NBC’s decision to air the images that they cancelled appearances on the broadcaster. Did they really need to be put through this?

Since the release of the images, police handling the investigation have also criticised the airing and media reaction to the images and rants by the killer. State police chief Steve Flaherty said victims’ families and the Virginia Tech community had been badly struck not only by tragedy but by the intense media attention surrounding it.

“The world has endured a view of life that few of us would or should ever have to endure,” Flaherty told a news conference. “I’m sorry you all were exposed to these images.”

To be honest with you Flaherty so am I.

I personally believe NBC have let these people down and shown no respect for the families or the dead. I believe that sensitive material like this is not for the public domain. This shameful episode in human history has set a precedent for any unhinged lonely ‘Natural Born Killer’ out there who fancies becoming a household name. Just do what the VT killer did and you can be an overnight star!

Why not write to NBC President Steve Capus to give your opinion on the decision to release the material:

Steve Capus
News President
NBC News
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10112

You can also email NBC if you want to comment on the coverage by clicking here: MSNBC TV

Comments and Feedback about MSNBC.com

Alternatively go to the NBC Contact Us page.

I believe the media has a moral responsibility and on this occasion they have let us all down. It should be made clear that this material should not have been released in our name. If you agree, make your opinion known. Thanks

11 thoughts on “Virginia Tech Killings: Have NBC and the media gone too far this time?

  1. Hello Bala Fria,

    This is a great piece and as you can see a lot of my readers feel the same way! I am going to post it on my site… did you write this???

    As I would like to give you credit for it if you did.

    ~The Baby Boomer Queen~

  2. Hello Baby Boomer Queen,

    Yes I did. I spent a bit of time putting my thoughts together this morning as I have felt quite strongly about what the media has subjected us to for the last few days.

    I would be grateful if you could lead people to the original source here at Bala Fria.

    Thanks, Tio

  3. I don’t feel comfortable seeing photos of a man pointing a gun in photos knowing that the man went on to gun down 32 individuals with that very weapon in cold blood.

    There is a line and for me, it has been crossed. If you feel comfortable with this fine. But there are many people who are not. I am not easily offended but I didn’t feel comfortable with this.

    I want to make clear I am against censorship but on this occasion I believe NBC should have handed the material over to the FBI and left it at that.

  4. I agree with you, Tio. NBC would look like leaders were they to not have fallen into Cho’s trap, which is kind of how I’m beginning to look at it. He *knew* they were going to parade his video all over the place – why else would he have done it? The fact is that he used the media and they were ready and willing to go there. NBC did exactly what Cho desired.

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more. It is all so predictable. Are the media really that simplistic? Of course they are… this is not about Cho, the grieving families or the mourning students… this is about ratings!

  6. Fortunately, I rarely watch television anymore, so I have not been traumatized (or desensitized) by those disturbing images. I am convinced that the media lets stuff like this out to bring as much mental and emotional torment in the minds of people as they can. Half of the population will just be numbed by it (as I used to be until I began my media blackout and as such began to experience human emotions again) and the other half will become basket cases and have to resort to drugs to function. Whether you are numb or a drugged out basket case, in either event you are ripe for control by the government and by corporations. My prescription for fighting back against this stuff is people turning off their TVs and opening their Bibles. http://healtheland.wordpress.com

  7. As always another well considered posting. The trouble is that the killer literally made a media friendly pack (sick as that is) that would have been hard for any TV news network to resist (especially ones that rely on ratings and sponsors). By showing it they’ve complied with the killer’s desire to inflict more pain on the families of the deceased from beyond the grave and elevate his status to a level of notoriety that may well encourage copycats.

  8. You are right, Emalyse. It is very clear. In choosing to bask in their exclusive, NBC are guilty. Guilty accomplices in one man’s preconceived project to cause an immeasurable amount of pain and hurt to as many people as possible.

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