Citizen: Anytime someone dies at a young age, curiosity and sadness are understandable. But when TMZ starts running a live video stream waiting for the dead body to be taken from the scene, at what point does the media become ghoulish? Everyone from Alex Balk to Gawker almost immediately turned the story from sad to pageviews, some posting update after update sometimes with little attention to how the news might affect his family.
I'll add that I think it definitely holds up a mirror to the American attention span when Heath's story draws 600 times the number of comments as a story on the Congo — and 45,000 people die there every month. I was struck by the juxtaposition of this BBC screenshot: tragedy everywhere, but in America, the stars are in mourning . . .
Liberty: I couldn't believe it when I read the headline — Heath Ledger is dead. Like most of us, I refreshed my browser constantly, to get new details, to find some way to explain such an incomprehensible death. When someone in the public eye dies, we're left with confusing feelings and we want explanation. Heath Ledger's death certainly made me lament the fact that he will no longer make powerful films I loved — but the appetite for reports of his untimely death must be linked deeper, to our own thoughts on mortality and the permanence of death.
The media perceives these feelings and indulges our curiosity. As media consumers, I hope we know where to draw the line. Seeing the volume of coverage, I vowed that I'm going to challenge myself to be less numb to the other tragedies going on around the world. If a young, handsome, gifted actor can stir such grief and attention, genocide, civil wars, and other inexcusable violence should outrage us all enough to call for action.
What do you think?