/// Why Are the Newtown Recordings Different From Everything on Broadcastify?

December 4, 2013  |  Media Week

NBC was the first to say it out loud: “The families of the victims of the Newtown, Conn. shootings made it public that they did not want the 911 tapes to be released,” NBC News president Deborah Turness told staff this morning in a memo shared with press. “Unless there is any compelling editorial reason to play the tapes, I would like to respect their wishes.” CNN, too, said it would be circumspect and review the audio carefully, and ABC News told Adweek flatly that it would not use the audio at all. While a CBS spokeswoman said that the network “will broadcast excerpts” from the tapes, the network will not use any gunshot sounds at all and won't use the audio in any promos or teasers. “Fox News will not be airing the most gut-wrenching moments from those calls,” said Shep Smith on the air at 3 p.m. Most online outlets have chosen to run a brief AP story on the professionalism of the first responders. It's a noble sentiment and one likely to be shared by colleagues in the TV news world as the first anniversary of the horrific murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but it elides a disturbing trend in television and online news in the recent past: grisly audio of 911 calls and police scanners has proliferated wildly in the last year. Part of this has to do with what TV news analyst Andrew Tyndall calls a sea change in the idea of journalistic ethics when it comes to crime reporting. “Because of the ubiquity of recording devices and in the hands of amateurs, not professionals, there's a whole new category of news now, in which if you've got footage of it, it's newsworthy,” Tyndall said. “Before, you'd send someone out to cover something with intrinsic news value; now it's the other way around—something would be a local story, but there's audio or video, so it becomes national.” As of this writing, the only major news outlet that has chosen to publish the audio is Mediaite , which has leapt on any news— however tenuous —about the murders since the story broke.


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