Letter: A Right to Know, but No Need
To the Editor:
On behalf of my family (my sister, her 10-year-old sons, our mother and myself), I am writing in regard to the Valley News’ recent coverage of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. It goes without saying that countless people were profoundly affected. Who would not recoil at the senseless slaughter and feel the grief caused by the actions of one disturbed young man?
On Saturday, the day after the news first came out, contrary to usual, my sister did not allow her boys to see the Valley News. Many other parents must have made that choice, both for their children and themselves. We adults barely skimmed the paper for several days. It would have hurt too much to read every distressing detail and see every disturbing picture. So, on Tuesday, when we saw the heart-rending front page full of photos of the victims, we were appalled. The Valley News exercised extremely poor judgment by printing this page.
Without a doubt, it is crucial to have an informed public, and the media play an important role in that. However, in recent years, in an effort to grab public attention, the media have crossed an ethical line all too often; immediately following a tragedy there is frequently an onslaught of sensationalized “news.” Increasingly, the public’s right to know has been distorted into a perceived “need” to know. There is a significant difference between the two. With Tuesday’s front page, the Valley News absolutely crossed the line, showing apparently little consideration of its distressing impact.
Valley News editorial staff, on which side of that ethical line do you stand? If the Valley News is to be of genuine service to its readership, it has an obligation to do so with responsible decision-making. Therefore, we ask that you exercise better judgment in how you present the news in the future.