News outlets nationally and locally are preparing to cover the James Holmes theater shooting trial, now on a hastened schedule. The long-postponed trial is expected to begin next month, once again focusing national media attention on Colorado. News consumers should prepare, too: the trial will be live-streamed.
The horrific massacre in the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado refocused a spotlight on an area already scarred by senseless gunfire. Naturally, local news crews mobilized quickly and relentlessly, not only in an effort to inform their public, but to also to reassure them. Stations took the unprecedented step of moving their normal morning content to their subchannels to maintain their nonstop coverage. This wasn’t done for commerce; it was done because it would be unthinkable not to. Broadcasters feel that this is their unassailable duty to their community, that this is how they serve the public.
It’s interesting that so little of the outrage over the Aurora killings has been directed at the media. The national conversation about how this could happen and how can it be prevented from happening again has been mostly about guns. That’s in marked contrast to the aftermath of the Columbine killings 13 years ago. Perhaps it’s because broadcasting — the medium most easily regulated and most scrutinized — is not so violent anymore. Or perhaps it’s the nation’s acceptance that such shootings, whatever the reason or reasons, are now an inextricable part of our society