Thursday, April 19, 2007

What should NBC have done?

Once it was in possession of the radioactive package of material mailed to it by the man who shot as many people as he could on Virginia Tech’s campus on Monday, what should NBC have done?

No doubt, it should have contacted the cops immediately, if not sooner.

We’re told the network did something along those lines. Whether it did so before it shamelessly stamped its corporate mark on all the images, to serve as promos for NBC wherever they would be seen, I don’t know.

Then the network’s bosses and wise heads should have had a private powwow. At that meeting it should have been decided that before the controversial material would be aired there would be a 24-hour period of study to see how the network should proceed.

So, the existence of the package would be publicly acknowledged, but NBC would tell its audience that in deference to many concerns, some with many facets, it would not be presenting or sharing any of the material until further notice.

That’s what the network should have done yesterday.

Today its smartest people should have met with law enforcement reps, officials from Virginia Tech, people who could speak for some of the families of the dead, and others. Discussions should have covered when some, if not all, of the material should/might be aired. They should have covered what value the material had, if any, beyond its ability to reveal depravity.

Furthermore, what time of day might be avoided? How could it be done without seeming to promote the publicity-seeking shooter? When and how could it be done in a way to minimize the pain it might inflict on the victims’ families, etc.?

Perhaps it would have been decided to release some material on Friday, or Saturday. Then, next week, maybe more of it could be available on Internet sites, or only on television after 10 p.m., or whatever. Perhaps it should have been decided to just wait and see. The key is to think it over for a day, or so, and try to be careful.

Instead, NBC acted like a giddy 19-year-old political blogger, wannabe shock jock, looking to have his biggest day ever for hits. Instead, NBC looked after its own greedy short-term interests, to do with promoting itself. Sadly, the other networks all followed suit.

In a better world, NBC would be boycotted for its headlong rush to cash in on creating a sensation, by using the shock and grief of the Virginia Tech community as a backdrop. In a better world...


Daniel said...

I have a little information on how they actually did proceed. They turned the information over to the FBI immediately after they got it, or apparently immediately after they made a copy of it. We found out about it at a family meeting the day before it was released. And while I agree it was a stupid decision to make, it didn't effect this family very much.

F.T. Rea said...


It’s a comfort to know that at least some of the people most directly impacted by NBC’s terrible decision were able to gird themselves in such a way that their pain was not magnified at the worst time.

So, I appreciate your comment.