NEWS BLOG (WSAU) There’s a homicide in the news today. It’s the first of the year in Wausau. Hopefully it’s the last.
In my radio career I’ve working in several newsrooms that covered a lot of police-blotter stories. On Long Island and in Westchester County, a Saturday morning newscast might be nothing but stories from the Friday night police blotter.
The New York Cityof my youth had 2,200 homicides in one year (1980). That’s more than 40 murders a week, or, on average, about 6 a day. I remember listening to top-of-hour local newscasts on WABC radio, or watching the evening news on WPIX-TV; they did not do news reporting on six murders a day. When something happens that often it ceases to be newsworthy. Only the spectacular, the stories with a twist or some unusual angle, make the news. In other words there were dozens, perhaps hundreds, of murders that simply didn’t make the news broadcasts of New York... lives snuffed out with barely a public word from the city’s newscasters.
When I worked at WICC in Bridgeport, the city had the dubious title of being the per-capita murder capital in the U.S. Bridgeport (a much smaller city than New York) averaged between 50 and 60 homicides a year. That’s about one a week. From my time as the assignment editor at WICC, I can tell you the police blotter had details of shootings in the city almost every day. The issue was whether the gunman had good enough aim to actually kill their victim. We made an admittedly callas decision; murders were newsworthy, but shootings where the victim survived were not. After all, those shootings happened almost all the time. A ‘good aim’ report was newsroom lingo for a homicide story that had to be covered.
News reporters (and the public) become numb to police-blotter news to the point that we hear the information but our minds don’t even process it. That’s a bad state of affairs.
There was a murder in Wausau yesterday. People are talking about it today. They’re concerned. They’re expressing sympathy towards the victim and his family. They want the suspects to face justice. And, rightly so, it’s not being ignored.
Operations Manager,Midwest Communications-Wausau