This morning NBC News, on its website, featured a quote from the wife of yesterday’s “alleged Fort Hood shooter” as a breaking news headline (see above). Though it may be accurate, it calls to mind other instances in which the media—desperate to get their hands on any bit of information they can—seem to insensitively attack other victims of terrible crimes. For example, in last year’s Boston Marathon bombing case, the media scrutinized Katherine Russell, widow of Tamerian Tsarnaev. At that point, Russell herself—although she was interviewed by authorities—had not been named as a “person of interest,” so the fact that the media followed her so closely seemed uncalled for.
In today’s example, it would seem logical that the wife of the alleged gunman in yesterday’s shooting would not be feeling well and would have been talking to police all night. Was it necessary to report this, let alone as breaking news? Should the wife of the suspect, identified as Ivan Lopez, be entitled to any amount of privacy? How should she be covered by journalists, if at all?
Editor’s Note: The graphic above is a re-creation of the breaking news banner on NBC News’ website. By the time I got around to publishing this post, the original banner had vanished and I was left with a very low resolution screen shot. This re-creation is accurate except for its largely rectangular orientation.