“Marketing” a Killer
The tragedy this week at Virginia Tech has left us all stunned and horrified. Personally, I am also stunned and horrified at the way the media is making a cult celebrity out of a deranged murderer. This morning, you couldn’t pick up a newspaper without staring down the end of two pistols and the face of evil itself.
In a society that’s all but immune to atrocities in the news (e.g. 183 people lost their lives in Iraq on Monday), only the most sensational stories can divert our collective attention from American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.
As a marketing professional, I understand the power of a shocking photo. If you want to sell papers, a picture of the gun-toting madman will turn more heads than a picture of grieving students. But by giving such a disproportionate amount of airtime to the disturbing press kit of a serial killer, aren’t we inadvertently promoting his violent ideology? Or worse, by “marketing” Seung-Hui (see, even I am helping raise his search engine status), are we – in fact – encouraging every lunatic wannabe with a camcorder and aspirations of notoriety?
The media is an extremely powerful tool, and with extreme power comes extreme responsibility. Seems to me that it’s far more responsible to stop “selling” the news by marketing the perpetrators of this type of unspeakable violence, and devoting equal time to uncovering and addressing its cause.