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The current happenings in Littleton, Colo., are a very sad affair indeed. Thatís about all Iíd like to say about them, however. Itís a sad event that should be dealt with in real life, not written about in hypothetical words on a newspaper page.

This, unfortunately, mirrors the thoughts Iíve had about the mediaís coverage of the whole Littleton incident. It was on the cover of many magazines, daily newspaper, and tabloid, as well as being the cover story on almost all "news magazine" TV shows. Of course, it was given exposure because the incident was very important news. The majority of people wanted to know what happened, and once they knew, they wanted to know why. The latter question is still up to debate, and will be until the end of time.

What happened needs to be remembered so that we can start to put an end to this sort of event happening elsewhere. However, it does not have to keep being etched into our minds over and over. When we've learned of an event such as this, our mind decides that we definitely should remember the sadness of this event. However, this sadness should not be used to sell items.

All forms of media preyed on our consciences and feelings so that we would watch their shows or read their articles. Aside from many wrong facts being listed in publications, many horrible headlines touted messages to the extent of, "come read us...we have the best information on this gruesome event!" Our own Bismarck Tribune had information of the Littleton incident plastered onto the front page for at least three days straight, even more if you count articles directly related to the shootings.

Part of the reason these boys committed these acts was attention. Whether anyone will say that or not, deep down it was partly because of attention. They knew they could get attention this way...There's no question in anyone's mind. The kids knew that this would be a huge event if they did it, and I'm sure they weren't getting enough attention in their community and at home. If the parents didn't see weapons sitting openly in the kids' rooms, apparently they didn't get enough attention.

So the obvious answer is to limit printing about the shootings. Not everyone will agree with this, but I think following the lead of the Chicago Sun-Times would be a smart idea. The first day it was out, they didn't mention anything at all on the front page. I believe they did go on to report the story in later days, but not in the whole hullabaloo of most other newspapers of the country. This is a step in the right direction towards a media who cares about what people read, and not just about serving the most money-making news stories to the lowest common denominator of a reader. Heck, I'd love to see a newspaper that wrote its stories in a level above fifth-grade reading!

A TV show that impressed me was the national news show "Channel One," broadcast mostly to school districts (including Bismarck Public Schools) . They waited until two days after the shootings until reporting on the story. This way, they could report just the facts and not let any of the misleading rumors ruin a story that should be just facts. While most newspapers quickly jumped to the conclusion that a certain number, a large number, of people were dead (another "fact" they could use to improve sales on the newsstand) , Channel One waited an extra day until the final number was tallied. This number turned out to be not quite half of the original estimate.

But I digress. Even with my own article here, some would say that what I have just written is not standing up to my own ideals since it brought up the topic of the Littleton spectacle yet again. However, I think that acknowledging that it happened, then going out and preventing it ourselves, is better than not admitting it ever happened. If there is a lesson that can be learned from (there are many) , one I'd suggest is that we need better communication. Parents, kids, schools...Everyone. Don't be afraid to talk to one another; you may be surprised at the importance of what someone else has to say.


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Karl Becker, the author of all these articles, uses New Tricks for his writings.



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