Debating Media Morality

Dear Zibby:

First of all, let me say how sorry I am for your loss. My heart broke when I read your editorial. I, too, am someone who thinks the media needs to take responsibility for what they publish and produce, no matter what the medium. My friends will tell you how adamant I can become when I am on a crusade against the media. I have already worn out several soapboxes in my lifetime. That said, I must say I watched the 9/11 broadcast on CBS last night, and was very impressed with what I saw, and the sensitivity, for the most part, that was used in the program.

The loss of a loved one is extremely traumatic. Death is even more traumatic when it occurs in a public arena – everywhere you look, you see constant reminders. In an event the magnitude of the terrorist attack, media might be hounding you or the families, and you may just want to be left alone to grieve. When the circumstances prohibit the families and friends from obtaining the closure that viewing the body, saying goodbye, and burial would afford, well I can only envision how unbearable that must be! I have experienced death in my life, Zibby, but I can only imagine the agony that you and Stacey’s family and friends must be experiencing.

So I think viewing this special may not be a good idea for you and others who were affected closely by the terrorist attack. In this instance, I must agree with your assessment that you are too close to the situation. Of course you are still in pain. Your response is normal and natural.
But what occurred on September 11th is also history now, and much like the atrocities of the concentration camps, we must never forget what was done to us, to our country.

While I feel there was nothing visually graphic in this film, I think what hurts is that we all know the outcome of that horrific day, and we know that the story won’t have a happy ending. You ask whether the media has some obligation to protect us – I think each of us has an obligation to protect ourselves. If you find it offensive, don’t go to that movie, don’t read that article, don’t watch that program. I think collectively we need to continue to recognize that there is power in numbers, and we need not to be afraid to speak up and out where injustice is concerned. But just as we are our own best advocates, ultimately our own welfare begins with each of us.

Dee Luther, Faculty Assistant

March 25, 2002
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