After killings, how much news is enough?

Staff WriterApril 5, 2009 

The shooting started inside Pinelake Health and Rehab Center shortly after 10 a.m. last Sunday. Before church was out, family members had been alerted and were trying to get to the nursing home to find out whether their loved ones were OK. By lunchtime, news crews were on their way.

For two days, satellite trucks left tracks in the greening grass of survivors' homes in tiny Carthage and rural Moore County. Newspaper reporters and photographers hogged the tables at the wi-fi coffee shop in town. Their stories went out to the world: eight dead, including a nurse. Grandfathers and great-grandmothers in their 70s, 80s and 90s, some of them shot in wheelchairs they couldn't maneuver down the halls.

By Wednesday, all save a handful of the media had gone, moving on to other stories.

On Friday, a man in Binghamton, N.Y., killed 13 people before apparently committing suicide. A day later, a man "lying in wait" attacked police in Pittsburgh, killing three.

Do we hear too little about mass homicides, or have we heard too much, to the point that we are desensitized to the violence? How should the media -- and the public -- respond?

Click the links under "Related Content" at the left of this page for responses from some people who have studied violence and its treatment in the news.

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