National Catholic Reporter

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The Sensationalization of Another Tragedy

Why is it that a tragedy, such as the mass killing in Manchester, Connecticut yesterday, elicits a kind of morbid prurience in the news media?

Rick Sanchez on CNN instructed viewers to call their relatives to switch from other channels because he was about to broadcast an important interview with the mother of a woman who was a friend of the shooter and who had third-hand knowledge of the shooter’s state of mind. Third-hand observations? That is not reporting, that is gossip.

I do not need to look at the front page of this morning’s Post to know that we will be assured that grief counselors have been dispatched to the scene, although whether or not these counselors actually help the bereaved deal with grief or merely with its symptoms is another question. I wrote about grief in the wake of my mother’s death and the mass killing at Virginia Tech in what I think may be the best thing I have ever written in my life.

The one thing we can always do is hit the clicker. Better to watch professional wrestling than to watch CNN on the day of a mass killing.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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