Thursday, April 19, 2007

Steve Capus, a man of double standards

"I’ve received hundreds, if not thousands of emails, both internal an external, with people with very strong views about what should happen. I’ve listened to those people with their comments...And we’ve had any number of employee conversations, discussions, emails, phone calls. And when you listen to the passion and the people who come to the conclusion that there should not be any room for this sort of conversation and dialogue on our air, it was the only decision we could reach."

This is Steve Capus, President of NBC.

Mr. Capus is not speaking about the most deplorable and disgusting event to take place inside the NBC network. Instead, Mr. Capus believes that Don Imus' comments about the Rutgers basketball team merit apologies, the cancellation of the show, and a deep look into the moral compass of his company.

Let's be serious for a second, Don Imus should not have said what he said, but his comments did little more than expose that even radio hosts can make racially-offensive comments. Don Imus' firing may have been a good move, and I do believe that the type of language he used on air was not appropriate, no matter whether on the nightly news or a more shocking-syle show like Imus' was.

Here is where I start to get upset.

We are all quite aware by now of the horrible events that occurred this past Monday. A man of shadows decided to step out and not only end the lives of 33 of his fellow students and professors, but to throw himself into the spotlight. The man behind the shootings should have never received any spotlight attention for what he did.

Instead of awknowleding that one of the shooter's main motivations for his actions was to make himself known (as evidenced by his decision to send photos and videos to NBC news), the media, led by NBC News, gave the shooter the attention he ultimately wanted to be remembered by.

"We did not rush the material onto air, but instead consulted with local authorities, who have since publicly acknowledged our appropriate handling of the matter."

Seemingly lacking the sensitivity with which he handled the Imus situation last week, Mr. Capus was apparently only concerned that putting the shooter's video and photographic manifesto on air to millions around the world might be illegal or jeopardize the police investigation.

If Mr. Capus is being honest about not rushing the footage onto the air (I'll give him the benefit of the doubt on this), than what America should be upset about is that NBC aired the clips at all. By making the shooter's identity so public, and by displaying his words, (words that should have been left to the police to read, and the police only) NBC has showed us that their broadcasting standards surrounding sensational stories such as the Virginia Tech shootings aren't as important as those surrounding issues of money (sponsors pulling out of the MSNBC Imus broadcast).

What is at stake here are human lives, and their stories that the media is all to inclined to paste over with a shooter's staged photograph.

I was never a fan of biographical video montages made by news networks, but the words "dont go away, we're the only network to have the contents of the shooter's package ready to show to you live on TV, so hang on for only 12 minutes" trouble me more than any well-intentioned video memorial could ever have the potential to.

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