Thursday, March 06, 2008

No longer coverage-worthy

Two days ago, a 60-year-old in a suit and tie walked into a Wendy’s in West Palm Beach, Fla., and pulled a pistol. First he fired at the lunchtime crowd clustered near the counter, killing an off-duty EMT who’d already eaten but had come back into the restaurant to exchange the toy his child had gotten in a kid’s meal.

The shooter then turned toward the dining room and blasted away at random, hitting four people. Without having uttered a word, Alburn Edward Blake then shot himself in the head and died. The police say any explanation went with him.

Google any of the details and you’ll snag dozens of stories about the incident in local and even some national media. But you won’t see a word about it (other than these) on the pages or website of Nation’s Restaurant News. Because we’re a national news outlet focused narrowly on the business of restaurants, a multiple shooting in a lone fast-food place just isn’t coverage-worthy. The situation per se offers no business insight, and the incident is no longer sufficiently extraordinary, like the shootings some 15 years ago at a Luby’s in Killeen, Texas, or the rampage a few years earlier at a West Coast McDonald’s. It’s a heartless call, but a sound one news-wise.

But it’s unnerving to think we’ve reached a point where a random multiple shooting is no longer enough of an unusual occurrence to merit a spotlight.

1 comment:

  1. Peter,

    It has taken me a while to digest your post and I feel that NRN has taken a cold-hearted approach to this story and probably future ones of this nature.

    To the family of Rafael Vasquez, this is a life changing event that they probably will never recover from in a random act of violence.

    In 1998, I lived around the corner from the Glover Park Starbucks where the triple murders occurred. At that time, the news outlets were not as nearly rampant as they are today, but getting any news from any outlet was important to the healing process. What probably moved me the most was that Howard Schultz flew in to help those in DC.

    Unfortunately, I will have to predict that other horrific incidents such as these will probably happen again. My question to the NRN is this - Will you turn away and not cover it? Or will you decide that the next Rafael Vasquez is "no longer coverage-worthy"?