Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Campbell County School Shooting

As most of you know, a 15-yr-old kid shot three assistant principals at Campbell County High School yesterday, killing one and sending the other two to the hospital. (link)

On WBIR-TV 10's eleven PM news last night the purposely showed the young man sitting in the back of the police car. His bespectacled face glanced up at the camera, then looked away slowly shaking his head - as if to say, "These people, they just don't understand.... they just don't get it..."

Later, they showed him being led away in custody, his yellow shirt spattered with the principals' blood.

Robin Wilhoit, the evening anchor, said, "We have decided to show his face due to the severity of the crime."

My wife and I looked at each other in amazement that Channel 10 would be so brazen about showing the kid on camera, defiant in the back of the police cruiser, and later walking off in custody in a blood-soaked shirt. And to basically thumb their nose at established protocol they decided they needed to pre-emptively defend their actions.

I'm not in broadcast media so I don't know what the exact established rules or practices are regarding, a) showing underage offenders' faces on camera, and b) when and why these rules can be set aside.

I'm not so concerned about the kid himself, but what must his family have thought - seeing him on TV in such an obviously exploitive fashion? Was that necessary?

1 comment:

  1. Jamie Satterfield11/10/2005 4:19 PM

    On the question of what "rules" are in place in terms of media identification of juveniles, there are none. Rules that cloak or protect the identities of juveniles are written for those in the juvenile court system. Each media organization has a policy on when to name or show a juvenile and when not to. A murder charge will universally get you named and photographed in most media organizations, including mine.