Express Massacre

There may be a slight hiatus here for a while. There was a horrific car crash here which killed members of our family so obviously the inclination to rant declines a bit.

However, I was struck by news today of a shooting in Germany:

  • A teenage gunman suspected of shooting dead up to 15 people, including 10 students at his former school in southwestern Germany, has reportedly been killed during a shoot-out with police on Wednesday.
  • The teen – which the Germany’s biggest tabloid newspaper Bild has identified as 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer – prompted the authorities to seal off the small town of Winnenden after he fled from the bloodbath at the Albertville vocational school.
  • Germany has been shocked by a number of fatal school shootings in recent years.

    In February 2002, a 22-year-old gunman killed the headmaster and seriously injured another person in a vocational training centre he attended at Freising, near Munich.

    Two months later, 16 people were killed at a high-school in Erfurt in eastern Germany, by a 19-year-old former student, who then killed himself.

    In November 2006, a former student at a vocational school in Lower Saxony in northwestern Germany went a shooting spree in the establishment, injuring 37 people before turning his gun on himself.
I remember the Erfurt incident, having visited the city (in the former DDR) and having a friend who attended the memorial service.

Of course, we in the UK had our own tragedy at Dunblane in 1996. The memories of this massacre have been tainted by an horrendous piece of gutter journalism by Paula Murray in the Sunday Express in Scotland. Anton covers the shameful story here.

It now appears that the story has been pulled and families have complained to the PCC but JobseekerX has helpfully flagged up a cached version here.

In short, the sewer story was based on survivors (now over 18) doing teenage things (drinking, swearing, getting tattoos and having Facebook chats). Apparently, this - in Murray's words -
  • shamed” the memory of their dead peers (because)...... . in the days and months that followed the survivors, then aged just five and six, were the subject of overwhelming worldwide sympathy.
The Excess then quotes an MSP as criticising the teens when in fact she was only asked about social networking sites in general.

Obviously, the tabloid press are still smarting from the lack of stories about the killers of James Bulger in Bootle misbehaving as the injunction preventing publication of their details still stands.

UPDATE: 12th March

Please read the reply from the Sunday Express Scotland to Tim Ireland at Bloggerheads here.

Also, as the Express has taken down the story from t'internet, a Pdf of the front page is available here.

Of further interest is the statement of the PCC in 1996, shortly after the Dunblane murders.
  • Memo to national newspaper editors on Dunblane

    There is a shortage of suitable adjectives to describe the horror of the events in Dunblane on Wednesday morning.

    The Press Complaints Commission joins with Parliamentarians, Church and community leader sin offering the very deepest sympathy of all its members to those mourning the innocent victims of this inexplicable slaughter of children.

    The press has a legitimate role to play in relaying both information about these shocking events to an audience nationwide and the unanimous sympathy of the British people to all those grieving.

    As ever, the Commission appreciates there is a fine line to be drawn between public ineterst and private suffering.

    The Commission has received no formal complaints about the behaviour of print journalists in this matter. Nevertheless, in view of the special circumstances I would like to remind all editors that they and their journalists (including freelancers) throughout the UK are bound by Clauses 4 (Privacy), 8 (Harassment), 10 (Intrusion into grief or shock) and 12 (Interviewing or photographing children) of the newspaper and magazine publishing industry’s Code of Practice.

    In particular, Clause 10, with my own emphasis added here, states that ‘in cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries should be carried out and approaches made with sympathy and discretion.’

    I would ask all editors to remind those responsible to them about the terms of this Clause, and to be especially careful about respecting it when dealing with the unique and horrible events in Dunblane.

  • 15 March 1996
Of course, as The Express and others have shown, once children reach the magic age, they're deemed fair game. As guilty as Ms. Murray and her paper are, those who buy into the celebrity culture and press intrusion minutiae are just as culpable.


Five Chinese Crackers said...

Very sorry to hear about the accident. Have a rest from this sort of thing.

eric the fish said...

Thanks for the wishes. It shows what is important. I think that's why I like to put photos and positive stories on now and again.