This post was originally published on this site
It was the summer of 1980, and I was just beginning my career as a news editor in Minneapolis. I vividly remember one particularly awful story involving the gruesome murder of a young woman by her husband in a rural suburb of the Twin Cities. I was assigned to edit the story and follow it along as it wound its way through the legal system. Because we had managed to secure an interview with the husband before he confessed to the crime, we had irresistible sound and video of him denying any involvement with her then “disappearance.” In those days, the news ran maybe twice to three times per day for a half hour each and I can assure you, we made sure that this story took center stage. Perhaps that is why I have never forgotten it.
What I have forgotten or never really understood was why we felt the need to cover this terrible crime with such relentlessness. In a fit of rage, a husband planned and executed the murder of his wife with his mother’s help, by the way, and then inexplicably reported her missing and sobbed on camera for all to see. Was it a story? Sure. Was it necessary that we repeat the lurid details every time we aired an update, always showing the same sobbing soundbite just in case anyone watching hadn’t seen it yet? I doubt it.
Today, most local stations air somewhere in the neighborhood of five to eight hours of news