I am wondering about the ethics of reporting on violence. Yesterday two bombs went off toward the finish line of the Boston Marathon creating chaos and killing 3 people – 2 adults and a child – likely all bystanders. Many, including atheletes were injured, losing legs and sustaining serious injuries of many types.
The CBC cancelled almost all other news and devoted every program on radio and TV since then to covering the aftermath of the event. Since real news in such events comes very slowly, they endlessly repeated the same information. A reporter gave us a snippet of information and Evan Soloman repeated it word for word as if he was giving us new information. This went on and on for hours.
As they found new witnesses, they had each person recall exactly what they experienced and how they felt minute by minute until there was nothing to add.
What is their objective here? Is the point to put every member of the audience in the exact position of someone who was there, experiencing the bomb. Do we want the whole American and Canadian populations to experience the violence vicariously? Is the repetition designed to induce in us a condition of PTSD? Post traumatic Stress Disorder? As we live and relive the same traumatic moments in time?
There is no question that this was a tragic event and has put people and security systems around the world on alert. We have no idea who did this or why? Was it an act of terrorism? A political act? Or the act of a mad person – or several mad people? This information will no doubt surface in time. We all want to feel compassion for those who were directly affected. But is this a reason to traumatize the whole of North America on a personal and emotional level?
And does this mean that the fact that the stock market is in free fall, job growth is weak to non-existent and there continues to be a growing disparity between the rich and the poor are issues that have just gone away? Where is the balance in reporting. Why aren’t some of these resources being put into serious research on what is happening to our economy? Why is our economy so dependent on commodities? Why is the whole energy of the CBC devoted to this incident instead of covering issues of real importance to Canadians? What greater reward can you give the people who committed this terrible crime?