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< We're back | Main | A duty to read the newspaper? >

Wisconsin AG tells the media to butt out

Posted at 2:52 PM on October 15, 2007 by Melanie Sommer

The tragic shooting rampage in the tiny town of Crandon, Wisconsin, earlier this month has ignited a debate over how the news media cover these sensitive events. Reporters, camera crews and photographers decended on Crandon after an off-duty deputy killed six people, and later, himself. The residents are tired of the attention. And the state's Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has urged the entire town to refuse to talk to the press. As you might expect, that's not going over very well in some quarters.

An editorial in the Wausau Herald points out that a lot of questions still need to be answered, and a 'gag order' won't help get at the truth.

To be sure, covering these kinds of hearbreaking news events is a very difficult balance -- journalists want to get the story, get answers to the questions of "who, what, when, where, why?" while trying to be as sensitive as possible to those involved. A good comparison is the shooting at Red Lake High School, when similar complaints about insensitive media coverage arose.

I can't speak for anyone but MPR on this, but know that we do our best to be aware of these issues, and hope to conduct ourselves as respectfully as possible.