Last Friday, Sept. 28, a man led Phoenix-area police on a lengthy car chase, after reportedly carjacking a driver and shooting at police officers. The chase ended more than 10 miles away from its starting place.
The suspect ditched the car in a field, wandered for a while, pulled out a handgun, placed it to the side of his head, fired and collapsed.
It's a terrible thing to think about. It's more terrible to have witnessed it live.
Yet thousands did: Fox News tapped into the stream of Phoenix station KSAZ, as it followed the chase via news chopper, narrating the incident in real time before switching to a delay when the suspect got out of his car.
The delay didn't make a difference: Due to a miscommunication, it aired anyway. A man's life was snuffed out in front of the eyes of thousands, with thousands more watching the video after the fact.
Fox News, to its credit, apologized immediately, saying in a press release that the broadcast was a result of "severe human error."
What's interesting to me is the reaction—namely, the questioning of why the practice of following car chases via news chopper continues.
Unfortunately, many in the media need to be the first to cover an event. It's a matter of personal and professional pride to beat everyone else with the fastest, most-accurate and most-compelling coverage—and what's more compelling than a suspected criminal obliterating himself by smashing into a median at 120 mph?
It's outrageous—but modern television has become a festival of the grotesque, making the outrageous both commonplace and expected. I mean, Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo is the most-talked about thing on TV, for God's sake.
As long as people keep tuning in, and keep talking about them, these incidents are going to keep happening. And that's more disappointing than any child beauty-pageant contestant hopped up on sugar and caffeine can ever be.
The Week on The Range
We gave you a look at UA football's new copper helmets (which were proudly displayed in a loss to Oregon State); shared a story about faith healers who are convincing people to stop taking their meds; shared the fact that Obama is sitting at the pole position when it comes to NASCAR voters; gave you a look at presidential polls and claims that they are skewed; offered readers a peek at the Best of Tucson® results early; read about the 21st anniversary of Nirvana's Nevermind; and shared information about the Wingspan Dinner.
We gave you a look at Madonna's continuing confusion as to our president's religion; took a look at the ad war between Jonathan Paton and Ann Kirkpatrick; offered a look into Australian marriage-equality politics; and shared a press release from OSHA citing the local Postal Service processing and distribution center for unsafe practices.
We looked into a few Flagstaff-based bars and restaurants opening locations in our beloved downtown; shared Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton's experiences on his own SNAP Challenge; congratulated Beyond Bread on its nomination to the World Food Championships; reported on the extension of a new Tucson Unified School District desegregation proposal; looked into the political beef between We Mean Business and Sky Bar over SB 1070; previewed a family-friendly bike ride that's scheduled for Oct. 6; looked at less-famous folks who believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim; and so much more!
Comment of the Week
"Wow, I was worried there for a minute! A new bar hasn't opened downtown in over 40 minutes. What's the difference between Tucson and yogurt? Yogurt HAS active, living culture."
—TucsonWeekly.com user "Mitch Marcus" wins the Stupidest Comment in Recent Memory award for ignoring the music, art and performances that occur downtown near-nightly in favor of a dairy joke ("Update: A New Bar and Two New Restaurants Are Opening Downtown," The Range, Sept. 27).
Best of WWW
Adam Borowitz's coverage on The Range last week of his participation in the Community Food Bank's SNAP "$4 a Day Challenge" was compelling reading that provided a fantastic discussion of the cultural and physiological effects on people who are forced to survive on SNAP benefits. Make sure to check out Adam's Guest Commentary, if you haven't already, for a recap.