Va. Tech Shootings: “Blacksburg Bloodbath” & Other Sensational Graphics

By Brian 

The frantic media competition in Blacksburg “forced the networks, trying to balance the compassionate and the sensational, to tilt too far to the latter when it came to on-screen graphics,” Broadcasting & Cable notes in a cover story about Va. Tech coverage. Quoting it:

“Words like ‘massacre’ and ‘bloodbath’ directly offset the sympathetic words of anchors and on-site correspondents.

‘We probably have to modulate ourselves with respect to titles,’ says [CBS News prez Sean] McManus. The network used the graphic ‘Blacksburg Bloodbath’ from a Web page headline during an on-air promo.

ABC’s [senior VP Paul] Slavin agrees. ‘This story didn’t need any sensationalism,’ he says. ‘But people are always looking for that extra rating point.'”