“If it bleeds, it leads”

bleedsA couple of teenaged girls got into a fight in Georgia. A bunch of other kids got involved, and a boy ended up dying from being stabbed in the neck.

Watching the morning news, I get to see the poor young man running while holding his neck, his hands red from his own blood. I wondered for a moment why I was seeing this. I mean, I know the old news adage, “If it bleeds, it leads.” But I didn’t think it meant on my TV screen.

Then I remembered: because it’s available via someone’s cellphone camera. If CBS News wasn’t showing it, someone else surely was.

Still, I’m distressed having seen the various deaths of people, in these instances at the hands of police officers: the choking death of Eric Gardner in Staten Island and the shooting death of Walter Scott. Also, the shooting death of Laquan McDonald was provided from police dash-cam, after being suppressed for over a year.

Have we become inured to the deaths of real people when they’re shown on television these days? I’m pleased to note that I’m still horrified. The line of what’s appropriate to be broadcast on network and cable news has obviously shifted. Obviously, I am woefully behind the times.

On The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore in late March 2016, one of the correspondents, Ricky Velez, suggested that old-line media we don’t need anymore because it’s too slow. “They need three sources to verify a story.” No wonder TMZ breaks so many stories, often correctly, but sometimes not. A guest on that episode of the Wilmore show, an Internet celebrity I had never heard of, said she checks Twitter first for her news.

I think there’s still a place for “conventional” news where the news isn’t determined by what’s “trending,” but what is important to know. I’m not sure how much cinema verite is required, though.

Image from here