Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Too much news?

For the last few days I've been tracking down information on an old crime – a tragedy comparable to the familicides we hear of all too often these days. The story of what happened afterwards is unusual enough that I want to use it as the basis of a novel. As I was researching events from seventy years ago, I heard about the California shooting which took the lives of Santa Barbara college students. Because we hear about these sad affairs so often, I wondered about the frequency mass killings. An article in December, 2012 in the "Daily News" reported the following:
       Grant Duwe, a criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections who has written       a history of mass murders in America, said that while mass shootings rose between the 1960s       and the 1990s, they actually dropped in the 2000s. And mass killings actually reached their       peak in 1929, according to his data. He estimates that there were 32 in the 1980s, 42 in the       1990s and 26 in the first decade of the century.
I have been surprised to learn the episodes haven't skyrocketed in the21st century. On the other hand, "Decoded Science" in January of this year stated "One obvious trend is that the frequency of such incidents has risen in the past decade; more accurately, in the past 8.5 years. When teen suicides grew substantially during the 1980's, the media all but stopped reporting on them due to the copycat phenomenon and guidelines issues by the Centers for Disease Control. My husband—who is a psychologist—cringes anytime a mass murderer is shown over and over on television, making his face and name famous, or infamous. He fears other troubled souls are noticing how mass violence creates celebrity and will follow with their own quest to be remembered. I've thought for a long time the birth of the twenty-four hour television news channels has produced an overexposure to negative events. How many times did you watch the planes crash into the twin towers in 2001? It's depressing every time. With so many stations and so many journalists all looking to "scoop" the others, the detailed coverage given to every horrific episode is overwhelming. If a guy didn't know how to go about unleashing his pent-up grievances, he has only to watch the news. For the victims, it's too awful to publicize. For the viewer, it's horribly depressing. I think I'll watch cartoons instead.

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