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Rx for Live Tragedy

May 09, 1998

I am grateful for Howard Rosenberg, who is our voice of reason and conscience. I am grateful for his mention of the dog Gladdis in the Daniel V. Jones fiasco ("The Russian Roulette of Live News Coverage," May 2). I wonder why all coverage has called this incident a "suicide" when it was a murder-suicide. Isn't that the name we give to a person's actions that include the killing of others as well as themselves? Why do we not call the killing of an other-than-human-being by its correct name: a murder?

Whether it be a pet, a food animal, a pelt animal, a hunt animal, it is a living creature and its willful killing is a murder. In Jones' case, a ghastly one.

RACHEL ROSENTHAL

Los Angeles

*

Wow, I love those freeway car chases and things like that. People switching cars in mid-chase, people dashing across the freeway, people setting themselves and their dogs on fire and shooting themselves. . . . Wait a minute! That is not very viewer-friendly.

Seriously, did anybody really think that sooner or later something like this wouldn't happen? You are dealing with unstable people doing irrational things, it's bound to happen. And who's to blame for this seemingly weekly event? TV news, that's who.

Perhaps the TV news directors should take a tip from the less dignified world of sports. Any time some nut runs on the field at a televised event, the director cuts away, so as not to encourage another nut from seeking his 15 minutes. Maybe if we take the same approach to car chases, this problem will start to go away.

After horrified people witnessed the shooting, some stations started giving out the phone numbers of doctors you could talk to about what you just saw. My first thought was, "Is it covered by HMOs?"

ALEX ZIMS

Van Nuys

*

The real tragedy was the number of children who saw this happen and the problems it will cause them. As I walked down the block, I saw a young boy run up to a young girl and say, "Did you see the man blow himself up on television?" How much more of this nonsense do we really need? Enough is enough!

It just goes to show you that an eight-second delay has its place in live TV, just as was practiced on radio broadcasts for many years to edit out horrific stuff.

DR. EDMUND H. CONROW

Redondo Beach

*

Once again Rosenberg shot off his entire journalistic bandoleer at the wrong target. Television did not exploit, cause or provoke that sad and nightmarishly horrible freeway suicide. This country is now not unlike a gigantic petri dish with rotting agar producing an abundant crop of anomalous creatures with deviant behaviors.

This is where the debate should be. Why does this so-called advanced society generate so much widespread deviance and pathology with such singular regularity?

JORGE VENTURA

San Diego

*

How ironic that the May 1 episode of "Newsroom," PBS' brilliant black comedy series (and thanks to Howard Rosenberg for putting us on to it), was about a threatened suicide live on TV. The news director's fear was that he couldn't stretch coverage for an entire week (ratings week!) and that the poor guy who wanted to kill himself would change his mind, decide to live and ruin everything.

SUSAN MARZORATI

Pasadena

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