if it bleeds, it leads

Last night, our fine local news channels lead their late night broadcasts with a pretty heinous story. Out in Lancaster, it seems, a man murdered his girlfriend. In front of her children. With a sword.

This story is horrible, but that wasn’t enough for our local news directors! They had to play the fucking audio of one of the children — a nine year-old girl — screaming and crying that they’d watched it happen, and didn’t want their mother to die.

Can someone please tell me what part of the public’s interest is served by broadcasting this horrible, tragic moment of children suffering? Other than the sick voyeurism and television ratings parts, that is.

I’m sure the people who made the decision to play this tape (purely for the news value, not the shock value, of course) will hide behind Lee Baca, who said the tapes were released because people just wouldn’t pay enough attention to the crime if they didn’t:

“When we talk about crime in the family, this is a level of incomprehensible violence that all of us have to step back and contemplate why these this things happen,” Baca said. “This type of crime … where children are participants in trying to rescue their mother as she becomes mortally slain is really beyond the pale when it comes to someone quite frankly in a deranged state.

“We need to get a desperate man off the street, we need to get him off the street right now.”

Right. We get it. This man is a monster and should be off the street. You know what? We kind of got that when we heard that he murdered their mother with a sword in front of her children.

There’s just no good reason to exploit their suffering by blanketing the city with their anguished cries at the top of the 9, 10, and 11 o’clock news.

Now, in the public interest of catching this son of a bitch:

Jesus Humberto Canales fled the scene in the 4100 block of West Avenue L about 2 a.m. Saturday in a bronze-colored 2002 GMC Safari van, California license plate number 6CBY663, according to the sheriff’s department. Canales may have a pistol and should be considered armed and dangerous, deputies said.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts can call homicide detectives at 323-890-5500.

25 Replies to “if it bleeds, it leads”

  1. It was pretty disgusting to hear them play the 911 tape. Sadly they feel the need to bring in the drama to an already sad story.

    The last I heard on the news this morning is they expected the perp to be in the Pomona area. Nothing on the Crime Scene blog at this writing to show he’s been caught, or at least caught in the coverage area of the Star New Group.

  2. I hate when they do this. I don’t think they even give the “graphic nature” warning anymore. I personally feel that mainstream media is the one responsible for desensitizing people to mainstream media.

  3. The story made the national cable “news” networks as well. Between this and the KTLA jackass a few posts down, I don’t get why anyone watches television “news.” I guess they just want to be entertained or emotionalized in some way.

    For real news, anyone can set up a home page like MyYahoo! that pulls in all kinds of news sources (national, foreign, political, business, entertainment, weather, etc.), then act as their own news editor by reading just the stories they want to read. They don’t need to sit through Runaway Brides, Brangelina, traumatized kids, insults to line-waiters, or anything else that they don’t want.

  4. Mark here… I grew up, well, went to High School anyway, in the Antelope Valley (Palmdale, Lancaster) and speaking as a former resident I can attest that it drives people insane.

    Sure it’s hot and boring and the cheap-to-affordable housing make for an eclectic mix of people who don’t always get along… but it’s more than that. You know that scene in Strange Brew where Doug Mckenzie plays the synthesizer and all the hockey players go nuts and attack each other?

    It’s kinda like that.

  5. It’s fucking disgusting and unacceptable. There is ZERO PUBLIC SERVICE rendered by playing that tape. There should be an apology from every single one of those stations. I’m fucking fed up with this bullshit from our “news” sources. Nothing but jacking America off to the tune of suffering, horror, human sideshow spectacles and fear, in order to sell ads & sponsorships.

    I know that media around the world is manipulated by whoever’s in power (in other nations it’s the religious/socialist gov’t, here it’s corporations), but just because it’s endemic to the medium doesn’t make it acceptable. We need to hold our media to a higher standard, not just write its abuses of the medium off as “Oh, well, that’s just the way they ARE. It’s tv news. What do you expect?”

  6. Nothing but jacking America off to the tune of suffering, horror, human sideshow spectacles and fear, in order to sell ads & sponsorships

    Do you think this is something new? You know, there was a time when daily tabloids like the New York Graphic of the 1930s competed on the news stands for readership right alongside the New York Times. This has nothing to do with “TV news” as Lucinda cites but the medium of journalism itself, whether paper or broadcast.

    Financing a daily news operation takes money, a budget … that money comes from mostly from advertising revenue and ad space/time is purchased based on solid numbers of consumer use. If it ever got to the point where our televised evening news was nothing but audio bites of children shrieking while their parent is being murdered … well, yeah, that’s a different issue. But I’m somehow certain that those villanous “local news channels” probably aired a story or two about the weakening economy, the war in Iraq, Barack Obama, and some fucking sunshine piece on “people giving back to the community.”

  7. Do you think this is something new? You know, there was a time when daily tabloids like the New York Graphic of the 1930s…

    Just because it’s been going on since the beginning of the medium, doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. Just because they air “a story or two about the weakening economy, the war in Iraq, Barack Obama, and some fucking sunshine piece on “people giving back to the community” doesn’t mean it’s alright to air a gratuitous piece of human suffering.

    Airing images of human suffering during the Vietnam War changed America. But this is for a different purpose. And it’s not ok just because “It’s always been this way.”

    Believe me, I know ALL about what a giant megacorporation does for cash. I know the people in these corps aren’t evil, just trying to make a living. But somehow it’s easiest to make a living with the “bleeds/boobs” leads. It’s what the American public buys.

    Why does America reward corporate media with dollars, for airing blood’n’boobs?

    As much as the media is responsible for encouraging, aiding & abetting our voracious appetite for gratuitous voyeurism of sex and suffering, it’s also time for us to take a good look at ourselves, examine why we crave this crack for our spirits, and strive for something better.

    Now call me a hippie & yell at me to get off your lawn.

  8. How did sex enter the equation, Lucinda? What’s being overlooked is that local law enforcement has not only the right but the obligation to go to the media and request assistance from the public in finding a dangerous suspected killer, so that the suspect may be apprehended and face justice, which may be the only relief and “closure” that the child in that audiotape that you were uncomfortable hearing, might ever experience from the trauma. I pray your sensitive emotions never fall victim to the horror that child experienced — if they did, you would most certainly be crying out for any help the media could give you in seeking reprimand and justice.

  9. Huh. I would have thought y’all would be more outraged when TV news orgs devote entire hours to, say, Anna Nicole Smith’s funeral or to Jon Benet Ramsey’s killer.

  10. Lucinda and Roger both raise some really good points.

    The traditional media TV, Radio, Newspapers are a business. Its about turning a profit for the shareholders. They’ll pander to any perceived need the public “wants” or their marketing departments think is wanted to make that buck for the shareholder.

    We all lost with the shift over the last decade or so to the sensational to attract readers. In the process the ace reporters and editorial people aren’t doing their job using the First Amendment rights to watch dog the pols and inform the public. They give us big boobs, train wrecks and horrific 911 calls from survivors because it sells and makes the share holders happy.

    It really bothers me that we lost that neutral watch dog reporting the events. We’ve lost our protections from the pols and big business.

    I hate to say it but the blogs, the hyperlocal policitically oriented blogs are filling in that role these days. The problem lies in lack of training at a good “J school” so the quality isn’t always there and the points get lost as a result. In a way I am glad there is a source but it isn’t necessarily the best it can be yet. The FCBlog: http://thefcblog.com/ in my corner of LA tends to be pretty good at it though the comments stray so far it dilutes the message.

  11. It really bothers me that we lost that neutral watch dog reporting the events. We’ve lost our protections from the pols and big business.

    Again, Fraz, I ask: You think is a new development? For God’s sake, have you never seen Citizen Kane? Ever heard of William Randolph Hearst? Horace Greeley? The sensational has been with us in journalism since the first printing press. This is not some new area of righteous indignation for eco-friendly forward thinkers.

  12. Rodger, I didn’t loose sight of it and even Lucinda raised some of those very topics. The last decade or so has been an incredible escalation in the dumbing down of our papers and them losing sight of their important role to our society.

    I have to laugh, I have never, ever been accused of with a straight face the label: “some new area of righteous indignation for eco-friendly forward thinkers.” I’m just a conservative old fart and I’ll cop to that one quite readily.

  13. Rodger – The fact that it has happened before does not make it okay. Before you paint me with your usual broad strokes let me tell you that I am neither forward thinking nor eco friendly and I think this is exploitation.

    I am also fully aware of the history of media exploitation so you needn’t remind me. You’ve pointed out the fact that the Hearst, Greeley and the fictitious Kane practiced this type of journalism but you don’t offer any sensible argument for why this type of journalism is acceptable today. The written details of the crime do more than enough to convey the danger and the need to apprehend the suspect. If this is not exploitation then I don’t know what is.

  14. Whew…I still got a got a good chuckle out of it. No offense taken, I have a thick hide, you get that working here and as a claim manager in a prior life.

  15. and I think this is exploitation

    It’s the Sheriff’s Department’s attempts to provoke a visceral response from the public to apprehend a suspect. What is your problem with that, Will? You want exploitation? Watch American Idol.

  16. We don’t need audio of the 911 call to have a visceral response. Thinking, compassionate people can understand the gravity of the situation and act accordingly without graphic demonstration.

    Furthermore, to compare this to American Idol is beyond ridiculous. I fail to see how a television show that no one is being forced to participate in or watch corrolates in the slightest to this situation. You may as well compare it to marshmallows or peanut butter as they would make as much sense as your comparison.

    I’m going to disagree simply disagree with you on this.

  17. I fail to see how a television show that no one is being forced to participate in or watch corrolates in the slightest to this situation.

    Are you being forced to “participate in or watch” the evening news?

  18. I have a problem with weak and lazy news editors that allow some government entity like the sheriff’s department to dictate what is published or broadcast. This is the importance of a strong news director. You know, someone with one of the old fashion thingys, a brain. Make a deal with the devil; do this story this way and I’ll get you anything you need on that government scandal (or whatever hot line is on).

    The cop shows, and the autopsy shows, have desensitized us. It’s all very controlled and not actually chaotic-like the truth is. When we get hit with the truth-it’s pretty shocking. We can’t sleep therefore we may need to sue someone for waking us up.

    Most wanteds, catch a pervert shows have ties directly to government agencies. This is a partnership. The problem is, there are rights here when it comes to the quasi world of news & reality vs. entertainment. It gets dangerously close to the Romans and thier little show they used to watch on the Colosseum Channel (in -420).

  19. The comparison to American Idol just put me over the Godwin’s Edge. You’re a class act, Rodger.

    Next time there’s worldwide-televised auditions for screaming terrified nine-year-olds witnessing the murder of their moms, all earnestly, entering themselves, with high hopes and emotionally arresting-close-up backstage confessionals, into a primetime gorefest to be narrowed down week after week to the ONE! SINGULAR! WINNER! who best expresses her anguish and horror for all of America, I’ll be tuning in! With popcorn!

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