Readers React: Why we shouldn’t see the Virginia shooting online -- or on The Times’ front page

Flowers are left for the two journalists that were killed on Aug 26 during a live broadcast in Roanoke, Va.

Flowers are left for the two journalists that were killed on Aug 26 during a live broadcast in Roanoke, Va.

(Jay Paul / Getty Images)

To the editor: Television critic Mary McNamara is way off in justifying those who watched the video of WDBJ-TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward being killed. We don’t need to watch these amazing people being gunned down to remind ourselves that our own reality is “not the totality of human experience.” (“If we watch the Virginia TV shooting is the suspected shooter ‘winning’?,” Aug. 26)

People have something macabre inside that can be drawn to this sort of thing as entertainment. Society has always been about people working on controlling their baser side for the good of all. McNamara writes, “As if news were suddenly beholden to feelings of gentility” — as if that were the most absurd thing. Parker herself wanted to “make news that matters.” Watching her in her moment of horror is not that.

To know the right thing to do, all one needs to ask is if you would want that for yourself or someone you love.


Vicki K. Hoffner, Diamond Bar


To the editor: What people who watched the video of Parker and Ward being gunned down witnessed was nothing more than what happens multiple times every day in this country: Someone who is incapable of resolving conflict nonviolently, either with others or within himself, picks up a gun and fires.

We’re a violent, gun-loving society; you don’t have to look any further than a newspaper, TV or movie to accept that simple fact. Our nation was created with gun violence, and it has never left us.

Our new laws allowing citizens to carry guns wherever they want simply make it easier to kill people.

Matt Giorgi, Brea


To the editor: McNamara focuses on the wrong determinant. Certainly many if not most of those who have watched videos depicting real murder wished they had not done so, or, as in the case of a journalist doing a job, preferred they had not been required to do so. On the other hand, it seems safe to assume that there are others who enjoy watching when given a chance.

Contrary to McNamara’s suggestion and, perhaps, now more than ever thanks to our beloved Hollywood, one need not view actual violence of almost any type to know what it looks like.

Knowing the number of people who enjoy watching real murder, regardless of the medium or opportunity, may give us a better idea of whether the barbarians might win again, as they prevailed 75 years ago in bringing a war to the world that resulted in the deaths of more than 60 million people.

Gary Bock, Los Angeles


To the editor: The Times printed a still image from an online video showing Parker the moment before she was shot. This is so tasteless, I’m at a loss for words.

Did anyone at the newspaper see the irony in publishing this picture with a column about choosing whether to watch this video?

The caption under the picture should have been, “Just in case you chose not to watch, here’s a picture you can’t avoid seeing.” Another option: “Note to potential killers: Post a video in the act and have it published right here on our front page — you’ll be famous.”

Michael Reese, Torrance

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