Editorial: Role of Social Media

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - I think all of us are still processing the drama that has unfolded in Cleveland beginning on Easter Sunday. There's so much to unpack in terms of what happened that it's even hard to know where to begin.

None of us at Cleveland 19 felt good about the amount of focus that was being put on the killer. But, because he was still out there, capable of anything, it was obvious we had to keep showing his face.

In terms of the murder video, at our own station, even though we showed a heavily edited video that cut off very early, we still grew less and less comfortable showing any piece of it. Much like some of the video from  9/11, I personally feel like there's no benefit from airing it moving forward.

Meanwhile, it's depressing and infuriating that people would be sharing the unedited version online. Why would you even want to do that? What possible good can come from that?

At least more people were using social media for the good. In the hours where none of us knew whether we were in danger, the overwhelming number of people sharing pictures and video of the murderer helped make sure people knew exactly who to be on the lookout for. The universal cooperation was astounding. More than three million people combined watched some part of our over four hours of nonstop coverage on-air and online that day as we helped to get the word out – and I do think that helped.

Finally, we wrestled with the question of coverage. Were we giving this story more attention than other murders simply because it happened on social media? In the end, it wasn't that at all. While other murders are out there, we don't always have the luxury of knowing exactly what they look like or hearing the claims of exactly what they want to do. Our hearts go out to the victims and the families of all murder victims. That it happened in front of all our eyes doesn't make it more or less important, just a little easier to bring to a resolution.

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