Brooke Baldwin: TV news companies view mass shootings as ‘ratings-generating revenue sources’
Former CNN anchor and reporter Brooke Baldwin is expressing concern at what she described as a trend of television news companies quickly decamping from coverage of mass shootings days after the tragedies take place.
Leading executives at major cable newsrooms, Baldwin suggests in a piece published in The Atlantic on Tuesday, are driven by ratings and revenue figures rather than news value and empathy for victims when they decide how long and to what extent mass shootings and their aftermath should be covered.
“After a week or 10 days, the outraged public grows tired of hearing about the carnage, loss, and inaction,” Baldwin writes in the piece headlined “Don’t Let the Cameras Turn Away.” “The audience starts to drop off. The ratings dip. And networks worry about their bottom line. And while the journalists in the field have compassion for the victims of these tragic stories, their bosses at the networks treat the news as ratings-generating revenue sources. No ratings? Less coverage. It’s as simple as that.”
Nearly every major news outlet in the country has been heavily focused on the recent shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a teenage gunman killed 19 children and two adults.
Several family members have granted extensive and at times emotional interviews to the various outlets on the ground in Uvalde, with a father of one young victim breaking down in tears as he described how he learned of her death. That interview with CNN was widely shared across social media and replayed across the various networks.
At the same time, the incident in Uvalde has renewed a national conversation about gun control, school safety and police preparedness for mass killing events. The Department of Justice is investigating the police response to the shooting after local law enforcement has given conflicting accounts of how police and federal authorities handled the situation.
“The conversation has already turned to politics, as some pundits urge a focus on mental health and others on guns,” Baldwin wrote. “Some journalists will try to hold our elected representatives’ feet to the fire. A segment or two will go viral. Americans will share their outrage on social media. And then another story will break next week, and the news cycle will move on.”
Baldwin, who worked at CNN for more than a decade, recalled her experience covering several mass shootings while with the network, including at Virginia Tech, Las Vegas and Parkland, Fla.
Baldwin left CNN last year, saying at the time she had made the decision so she could be “the bravest version of herself.”