Resisting a media frenzy
Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” said it best when he called the JonBenet Ramsey case “oxygen” for the cable networks. But if those of us in the print media like to think we’re above the sordid fray in such circumstances, it was horrible to see everyone from The New York Times to the Denver Post succumb, too.Now that DNA tests have revealed that this creepy guy who confessed to the killing was nowhere near JonBenet when she died, watch as those afflicted with the fever switch to “JonBenet Who?” mode. It’s likely the nationals will move on right away, while the Front Range media flings mud at the Boulder district attorney for John Karr’s infamous champagne-and-prawns business class flight here.There’s truth to the notion that the media delivers what its audience desires. So why don’t U.S. newspapers have a racy “Page 3 Girl” like British tabloids do? It’d certainly be popular with at least part of the male audience. But at what cost to credibility?When papers like the Denver Post dedicate huge sections of the paper to the story and send a reporter all the way to Thailand to cover what seemed like a highly suspect tale from the get-go, they stoop to the basest desires of their readers and undermine their credibility.It’s not always easy for the media to resist the pull in a case like this, but we owe it to ourselves and our audiences to at least try. A good place to start is to ignore what the 24-hour cable networks are doing and chart our own course.Vail, Colorado
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