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When a Killer is Just News

by Ethan Thompson

[commentary by Allie Bailey]

From 1966, the content is presented through a local news broadcast, KTBC news. This was the area in which mass murderer Charles Whitman shot 49 people on a college campus. The clip illustrates the lead of the story and live shots of gun fire, as well as public panic. The information was presented stoically through a straightforward package. Though the cameras are present during the shootings and panic from passerbys, the reporters appeared to show little emotion over the events or the killer. This clip is significant because the coverage is journalistically oriented, and in fact shows little interest in the killer's motives. This makes sense as news coverage is supposed to limit emotion from reporters. Also, the sixties was an era that was new to the concept of a "serial killer" or "mass murderer."

Therefore, the public has nothing to make of Whitman's actions, seeing as this was seen as a tragic occurrence. A clip plucked from special news in the sixties is interesting to look at considering how the news is delivered and what the public opinion of the shooting was.

When a Killer is Just News

A news broadcast covers a mass shooting in Austin, Texas.

from News coverage of Charles Whitman's Tower Sniping Spree (1966)
Creator: KTBC News
Distributor: Peabody Archive
Posted by Ethan Thompson
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