Horrific, but should go elsewhere. May 8, 2007 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Much as I think that this news story merits discussion, I can't help but feel like askme isn't the place for it. There isn't really an answer anyone can give.
posted by shmegegge to Etiquette/Policy at 1:41 PM (26 comments total)

It seems kind of borderline. I read the question as essentially being "why aren't stories like—and including—this one covered nationally?" Presentation is a bit wanting, but at a glance it seemed like there were some interesting answers inside.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:51 PM on May 8, 2007

i know i already mentioned something in the thread, which i regret doing. the fact is that i don't think this should be posted in ask, and i do think it would make an interesting post to the blue (despite being newsfilter, so long as it wasn't a harangue on the liberal media or anything like that) but i also don't want to assume that this is some clear cut case. Maybe i'm just being nuts.
posted by shmegegge at 2:00 PM on May 8, 2007

wow, awesome delay on my more inside comment. go me.

well, okay i guess. the answers inside really don't seem to be informed or helpful so much as speculatory and chatty. maybe that's just me, though.
posted by shmegegge at 2:01 PM on May 8, 2007

It's no more unanswerable than the slew of relationship questions that floods Ask.

In fact, I think a lot of the answers in the thread do a pretty good job of explaining why a story such as the one mentioned wouldn't be widely reported.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:08 PM on May 8, 2007

There are often "interesting answers" inside ChatFilter threads. They get deleted anyway.
posted by cribcage at 2:08 PM on May 8, 2007

Yeah, I dunno. It's just sort of eh to me; the reading that I put on to the question is more a reading of the answers than the question as rendered, now that I look again, but the analysis is kind of interesting.

When Jessamyn get's back from doing lines with the Ubuntu team she might nuke it to high heaven.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:09 PM on May 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I just wish I could turn back the clock and still never have heard this story. I should really not read every AskMe....jesus christ, I literally almost vomited reading that, and it takes a LOT to shock me. I am past horrified.
posted by tristeza at 2:14 PM on May 8, 2007

* sniff *


Yeah it's a little too much "help me understand the way everything is" and not much of a real question. I removed it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:17 PM on May 8, 2007

BAM! see, the admins do whatever i want because i sell them their blow.
posted by shmegegge at 2:27 PM on May 8, 2007

Speaking of, man, we have got some serious logistics to deal with re: the 10th anniversary. Do you have any actual, literal mules, say?
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:28 PM on May 8, 2007

We know who wears the pants around here.
posted by smackfu at 2:36 PM on May 8, 2007

I've worked with the families involved in this specific tragedy. I've got nothing to say except that it's the most horrific thing I've ever heard and my heart breaks every time I think about it. I don't know how the family feels about this murder being politicized in this way, but some of them wish this was on the front page of every newspaper every day.

There are times when, "I understand how you feel" doesn't mean a goddamn thing.
posted by ColdChef at 2:44 PM on May 8, 2007

no shit. i wish it were all over the country, too, frankly. i still think a thoughtful and well constructed fpp on the thing would be a good idea.
posted by shmegegge at 2:48 PM on May 8, 2007

Oh. Hmmm! I'm kind of sad that was deleted-- I thought that was actually an interesting question, as were some of the answers. (It was more the "That's just how it is, why are you curious about this?!?" answers that I found chatty. Frankly.)
posted by thehmsbeagle at 2:55 PM on May 8, 2007

I think it was fine. The asker was asking why/how some things get national attention while others dont.

There were some good responses in there including how the media needs a narrative or a hook in order to be able to publish a story. It helps too if the horrible thing reflects some wider tragedy in society so that the victim becomes symbolic. Finally, some comments about how such a story is not well-packaged - that is its too gruesome even for the tabloids.

In any case, the question was a good question about the engines of media and what are the important particulars of a story.
posted by vacapinta at 3:33 PM on May 8, 2007

the only one of those i can see applying here is it being too gruesome. the rest of it, narrative hooks and whatnot, i don't see applying. there was no narrative hook to VA tech until well after it was all over the country. it was just "many kids dead. more when we know it." what got it national attention was how horrible it was. same could apply here. as far as wider tragedy in society, i'd say race relations applies, whether you see this as racially motivated or simply telling of the growing random violence that happens in certain parts of the country. honestly, i think people in that thread are just going "huh. i dunno. maybe it's this?" and even though "this" is often well thought out, it's still just clutching at straws when no one can explain it.
posted by shmegegge at 3:39 PM on May 8, 2007

Wow, I hadn't seen the story before. That's some fucked up shit, that is.

As I've gotten older, I've moved further and further from agreeing with capital punishment. But then, every once in a while, I'll hear about something like this, and I really can't think of a compelling reason why anyone involved in this should be allowed to live.

/gives myself a good mental shake to get that story out of my head.
posted by quin at 3:40 PM on May 8, 2007

forgot to add: it was an interesting question. not the same as a good question for askme.
posted by shmegegge at 3:42 PM on May 8, 2007

It might be a good question about how the media works and how certain stories get picked up, but that doesn't make it a good Ask MetaFilter question. The meaning of life is also a very good question, but isn't the kind of thing AskMe is for.

Unless someone actually works at the Department of Which Murders We Cover, any answer will be speculative.

On preview: Jinx, shmegegge!
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:44 PM on May 8, 2007

I know similar types of questions have been deleted in the past, but I thought this one had merit. There was a legitimate question being asked and someone who works in the media or studies closely how it functions may have been able to at least provide some insight. I consider myself somewhat of a news junkie and I had never heard of this case before today. The question of what the media covers and why is a worthy one to try and answer.
posted by Otis at 4:03 PM on May 8, 2007

I was perhaps too hasty in my post. The whole media thing was something that I had been thinking about for awhile, due to a conversation with some friends regarding media attention to world problems (i.e. Anna Nicole Smith vs. the fact that no one outside of OpEds mention the fact that oil companies cry problems in the middle east are causing the gas prices to rise, while posting record breaking earnings). I had just read the article on snopes before making my posts, and perhaps overcolored it with references to this instance. I was simply floored by the fact that a human being could do this to another. I'm pretty thick skinned, and articles on murder and such don't usually get to me, but this was particularly abhorrent to the point where I lost my appetite.

I am honestly curious, and perhaps there IS no real answer (like some people have said about the "meaning of life") as to why some stories (US girl in Bermuda gets killed) vs. others (girl gets killed on Bronx street) get national attention over local. I just thought I'd ask. I apologize if I've posted a stupid question.
posted by Debaser626 at 5:47 PM on May 8, 2007

I apologize if I've posted a stupid question.

Your question was not at all stupid, but it was a little unanswerable as you asked it. As people have stated here, the kernel of what you were wondering about -- why do some things get reported and not others -- was well worth discussing and getting at. However, coming off of the Snopes article and providing a link and some "how could this happen?!" might have not been the best lead in. Don't worry about it though. You can ask a version of the question again in a week if you want to and I'm sure there will still be a lot of ways to get at your central question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:54 PM on May 8, 2007

You can ask a version of the question again in a week if you want to and I'm sure there will still be a lot of ways to get at your central question.

No no. I'm afraid that when I call something out, it stays called out.

but seriously, don't sweat it too much. I can say with near perfect certainty that I wasn't judging you at all or condemning your intentions when I posted this callout. I actually debated myself on whether or not to do it at all before I finally posted it. It's just one of those things where I could easily see why you'd ask, and why you'd think it would be fine. I just happened to think that it couldn't be answered unless metafilter had media moguls among its membership.
posted by shmegegge at 6:15 PM on May 8, 2007

quin writes "But then, every once in a while, I'll hear about something like this, and I really can't think of a compelling reason why anyone involved in this should be allowed to live. "

Because invariably people not connected to the crimes end up being killed by the state when you have capital punishment.
posted by Mitheral at 6:53 PM on May 8, 2007

You can ask a version of the question again in a week if you want to and I'm sure there will still be a lot of ways to get at your central question.

I agree. Leaving aside the question of these specific murders (unspeakably, heartbreakingly horrible), the issue of race and crime in the U.S. (fraught, to say the least), and the debate over the death penalty (not the time or place), speaking as someone who used to study media history in grad school, I think what the original question provokes a lot of broader, fascinating questions -- what "counts" as news? Who really does control the media, and whose actual interests are served? What types of issues, events, etc. really do get under-reported (or ignored entirely)? Or even more specifically, what are the issues surrounding the reporting of violent crime -- e.g., which crimes get reported? which ones don't? what do these disparities imply or suggest? A good AskMe on those lines could generate a great discussion, as well as useful recommendations for further reading, documentaries, etc.
posted by scody at 7:35 PM on May 8, 2007

In the 1980's I interned is a TV Newsroom. And race is most certainly a (not THE) determining factor in why things do or don't get coverage. News editors will non-scientifically "test the winds" so to speak. If they feel airing something will cause a dis-favorable community shit storm—if they might get picketed— they will not air it. It's weird how unpredictable and fickle coverage can get. They are as likely to go one way as another. Though major markets trend to go PC most of the time. Mostly it's about how easy it is. They don't want to spend too much time researching or deliberating. They want to be able to use those nifty satellite trucks! Even if the car accident happened five hours ago.
posted by tkchrist at 12:49 PM on May 9, 2007

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