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Criticizing The Media

Criticizing The MediaIn a Chicago Tribune op-ed, a Tufts undergraduate says the national media overstepped its bounds while covering the shootings at Santana High School. Chicago.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [03.13.01] In the wake of the Santana High School shooting, Tufts' Mara Vatz says the media need to turn their attention away from play-by-play recaps of the tragedy and focus on their own role in covering this and other school shootings.

In an op-ed that appeared in Sunday's Chicago Tribune, the Tufts undergraduate criticized the "full-fledged, chaotic media circus" that surrounded the California high school on Monday.

"The cameras were rolling so soon that the entire nation was able to watch as children were methodically evacuated from the yet-secured school, and as freshly wounded students were wheeled on stretchers -- some conscious, some not -- into ambulences," Vatz wrote in the opinion piece.

Calling the media's reports "obtrusive and uninformed," she said the "live coverage began to sound more like NBA sportscasting than news reporting."

And, Vatz said, that type of coverage is just as dangerous as an unlocked gun.

"The glorification and fame given to this brutality is certain to catch the attention and lend motive to the very child who may become America's next worst nightmare," Vatz wrote in Tribune, which is read by over one million readers.

As reporters compete for on-air interviews with parents and first-hand accounts from the scene, Vatz said the media lost sight of the real story.

"We must learn to treat school shootings as a tragedy of the victims, not the coming of age celebration of the predators," wrote the Tufts engineering and philosophy double major.

With a week of reporting behind them, Vatz said the national media should focus on the "true aftermath of a tragedy."

"No extra attention needs to be given to our newest celebrity," Vatz wrote in the Tribune. "Instead, the victims deserve the attention. And the consequences the murderer will suffer must become better known than his or her 15 minutes of fame."

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