Posts from June 28, 2005

Film at 11… and 12… and 1… and 2…

Film at 11… and 12… and 1… and 2…

: Every TV news outlets played and replayed the tapes of the BTK killer coldly recounting his crimes yesterday. I watched it on MSNBC. After I left there last night, I listened to it in my car (via Sirius) on Fox and CNN, where Anderson Cooper devoted his entire show to the confession, saying that we would learn something.

But would we? What do we learn from the sick and evil?

I had the same reaction when I first watched Oz and as a result gave it a bad review in TV Guide… though I confess that I did end up watching the series, became riveted by it, couldn’t stay away.

Not to trivialize them by comparison, but we do the same with the perpetrators of massive crimes.

What is it about watching the worst in us? Is it merely sensationalistic voyeurism? Is is relief that we’re sane? Is it bad taste?

So I’m not sure what I think of last night’s instant obsession with the BTK video. I certainly don’t think it was educational. I did think there was something wrong about intruding on this last moment of truth for the victims and their families. I was a little bit ashamed of us all for showing and watching the tapes. But I can’t help but be chilled by the dead-cold soul of this man.

Did I listen to his words passively as producers packed them into the shows I tuned into? Yes.

Did I understand the judgment that went into playing these sickly compelling scenes? Of course. I’m a tab editor myself. I preach “impact.”

But here’s the new question: In a new world of get-the-news-I-want-when-I-want-it, would I have clicked on a link to watch the confession if I knew what I would hear? No, I don’t know why I would have.

So when we become our own editors and producers and pick the news we really want instead of the news others think we want, will we still be voyeurs? Or will we reveal the tabloid editors and producers to have been right about us all along? Who will end up having better or more sensational news judgment: the people or the press?