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The silence is deafening


Stop the Presses column by Chris Graham
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The first thing that caught my attention regarding the news of the tragic shootings at Northern Illinois University yesterday – how quiet the media seemed to be about the whole thing.

Remember the wall-to-wall coverage of the shootings at Virginia Tech that commenced pretty much as the echoes of the shooting in Norris Hall were still reverberating across the Tech campus?

Yeah. Didn’t see anything like that at NIU.

Hell, the president of the university held a live press conference at 9 p.m. Eastern last night, and only one of the three cable news networks, CNN, was carrying it, and they broke away to go to “Larry King Live” because King had John McCain in an exclusive.

It’s not as if the news at NIU wasn’t of a shocking nature. Six are dead, including the gunman, and another 17 or 18 were wounded in the shooting.

This was as bad as Columbine, just a tad below Blacksburg – and really, it’s one of those Grace of God situations, given that the gunman apparently targeted a large lecture class that could have yielded him far more in the way of victims.

So …

Why the silence in the media?

Think they learned their lesson from their horrible exploitation of the shootings at Tech?

I talked to students who said reporters practically fell down over each other trying to get them to talk on camera about what they saw or didn’t see and what they felt or didn’t feel and what they knew or didn’t know about what had happened.

It was one of the more embarrassing moments in media history – and that’s saying an awful lot, considering media history.

I don’t want to give the media too much credit for having any kind of ability to learn from glaring mistakes like the coverage of the Tech shootings.

My assumption is that it just didn’t seem sexy enough.

You know, because last year’s big school shooting netted 33 dead.

Six dead barely registers a blip anymore.

Which says something else about where we are as a country, but that’s another story for another day.


Chris Graham is the executive editor of The New Dominion.



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