Are the news media feeding the fear of the beltway sniper? One might ask: How can they help it? Joan Ryan speculates:
Some journalists say they’re keeping the public informed in the hopes someone out there connects the dots and identifies the killer. (It ultimately worked with the Unabomber, when his brother recognized familiar phrases in the bomber’s published manifesto.) So public-interest coverage makes sense for Washington-area media. But the national news outlets can’t make the case that a viewer in, say, Los Angeles might help capture a killer 3,000 miles away.
It’s all about entertainment, feeding the beast called market share. And while this serial killer gets so much air time, even on the political shows, other important news gets squeezed out.
The beltway sniper is certainly big news in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. And, to an extent, the sniper is big news nationally. But should this killer be getting nearly 24/7 coverage from the all-news networks? Where’s the balance?