Confusion. Chaos. Frantic pleas. Chilling sounds.
We don’t know — yet — what those moments of horror sounded like at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, 2012 when Adam Lanza began killing. But we may all soon find the horrific soundtrack on our TV and mobile devices.
The Associated Press sought the release of the 911 tapes and it was granted by a state judge. He said holding back “only serves to fuel speculation about and undermine confidence in our law enforcement officials” although he called the reports “harrowing and disturbing.”
Now, media around the country and the world must decide if there really is news value in broadcasting the moments when Lanza went on his inexplicable rampage.
Twenty little children are dead. Six Sandy Hook staffers are dead. Lanza is dead. The 48-page Connecticut State Attorney’s Office report, issued last week, says we will never really know why.
I have a barrage of questions as we all sort through the ethical decisions ahead by news editors and, by us, the consumers of news.
Once in public domain, the tapes will likely turn up in other places, places not curated by editors who weigh the public’s right to know against … against what? Sensationalism for ratings? MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow was clear in her view — “No legitimate news value,” she said. Would you agree?
What can be learned from listening to the 911 tapes between terrified teachers, the custodian and others at the school and the police?
What do you think would justify playing the tapes for the public? Would it be bringing the news to a public served by information that can empower their own lives? Or would it be exploiting both the dead, the wounded, their families and — and all of us — listen?
Do you want to hear the tapes? Why or why not?
Remember, the rule at Faith & Reason: All views respectfully presented are welcome.