The media originally reported the wrong name of the alleged shooter. (The suspected killer was Ryan Lanza, they breathlessly reported. Turns out it was actually Ryan’s brother, Adam.) Then, some in the media advertised Ryan’s Facebook and Twitter page. (This, of course, brings to mind Brian Ross’ irresponsible and premature on-air suggestion over the summer that the Aurora shooter was a tea party member.)
As if those cases of egregiously mistaken identity weren’t enough, producers and reporters began trolling Twitter, seeking to proposition friends and relatives of the victims for an interview.
Meanwhile, others staked out the young survivors, and then proceeded to conduct on-air interviews with these young children. This was unseemly and superfluous. As TIME’s James Poniewozik wrote, “There is no good journalistic reason to put a child at a mass-murder scene on live TV, permission of the parents or not.”
I don’t blame the individual reporters or producers. They are merely players in a screwed-up game. And don’t fool yourself: The media is responding to market demand that you help fuel.
But if you’re wondering why the public dislikes the media, scummy behavior like this doesn’t help.