Virginia killer’s video

Posted by Dom 
One of the major issues the homepage team faced on Thursday was how to use the disturbing video created by Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung-Hui. I’d woken up to see the recording all over breakfast TV, so there was little doubt about how newsworthy the story was; however, concerns about glamourising or sensationalising the killer’s words were utmost in our minds as well. 
The debate about whether the video should have been broadcast at all can be seen on our news message board here; unsurprisingly, it’s an issue that has raised particularly strong opinions. Once we’d made the fundamental decision that the video link needed to be on our homepage, we had the issue of placement to deal with. Different ways to use the video were debated by all of us, with a full understanding of the sensitivity of the subject matter.
Ultimately, our news module led with the factual link ‘College gunman sent package to media’ throughout Thursday, with the ‘Video: watch his confession’ link underneath. Using any of our slideshow or small picture page furniture to further highlight the recording just seemed uncomfortably tasteless and inappropriate.
What do you think – were you surprised to see the video used in any form at all on the homepage, or were you actually expecting to see it featured more heavily? Let us know your thoughts on this most difficult of areas.
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68 Responses to Virginia killer’s video

  1. Unknown says:

    By showing his video the media perpetuate his myth, glamorising the depraved workings of a disturbed mind.  It allows him to inspire hate and violence in others, maybe even becoming a martyr to those who would plan and execute such a sad and devastating event in the future.  The media’s efforts would be better spent publicising the many stories of loss, bravery and survival rather than the one of violence and hate. 

  2. Grace says:

    I have to say I was surprised to see the video up, usually when something like this happens the media are not allowed to broadcast it, yet they are still allowed to talk about, and senstionalise the footage. Being able to see the footage first hand means that those who saw it can make decisions for themselves about Cho. If we had not seen the footage then we would again be slaves to the media\’s coverage and opinion. It will be interesting to see how this story continues – in terms of the media\’s interest, their opinion on what happened, but more to-the-point who they begin to blame, and who is punished.
    This was a terrible tragedy, but because the person who is responsible is dead, our media will move us towards other scapegoats and \’faults\’ in the system so that we can feel comforted in the fact that we\’ve found the problem, and we can resolve it. This is not to say the system didn\’t let him down at some point, but that we are often too keen to blame anyone we can find.
    I have to say that I appreciated being able to see the footage first hand so that I can read and watch future media articles in a more educated mindset.

  3. Stephen says:

    ste – no i dont think they should have shown it, all it does is to make him famous world wide, i dont agree with it at all. the videos may also spark further copy cat incidents across the world. all the public needed to know was that he was a disturbed young man.

  4. Unknown says:

    i think it was wrong to show the videos and pictures as they creeped me out so just think of how the victims will feel when they see this.

  5. colin says:

    no…these madmen do it mainly for the "glory" and this has helped glorify what he has done (in the minds of the twisted)

  6. Sybil says:

    No, I was shocked that it was being shown, so did not watch it.

  7. chris says:

    the video was not shown in a tasteless way so as cooper said i think they were right to give us the material and let us judge for ourselves. i cannot see this video inspiring any1 to commit a crime like this that wouldnt have done anyway, if that is your argument then all a would be killer would have to do is search the internet and they would find any number of violent videos to set them on there killing spree

  8. Tim says:

    by showing the video he has got exactly what he wanted and won i think it should have been reported about the video but nothing shown that way the media couldnt be acussed of gloryfing him/his acts

  9. Donna says:

    I think it was right to show the vid!! until i saw that i actually felt sorry for the guy! i just thought he was in love and freakout out & shot his ex & then everybody including himself because his mind had gone because his was rejected!
    now i know not!!

  10. Unknown says:

    I havent watched it… However, I do believe that everyone has an ethical obligation towards helping the healing process for those involved… It may help some to see this video but for others it may add to their distress and even their long term mental well being… The arena in which it is shown should be chosen so that it has helpon offer if it is needed.

  11. Abdul says:

    I think the video of the killer was useful. The last thing we need is to have information withheld from us. The the video helped bring up two major issues in US gun control and treatment of those with serious mental health problems.

  12. Kelly says:

    I do think showing his video had immortalised him but I think we all have a right to see what was going on, espeially because in our society, where mass murders like these are not meant to happen. At least now we can possibly learn from what\’s happened and move on.

  13. Unknown says:

    When anything happens in the world people are always looking for someone to blame, or for someone to pass the blame too.
    For example people have been questioning the man who sold the gun to the killer and trying to make it look like it was his fault this for whole incident. The shop keeper was just doing his job by selling the gun and in an interview has said he had done all the checks on the killer to see if he had a violent past or a criminal record and the boy passed all the test. So it was not the shop keepers fault, and like he said in the interview "it\’s not the gun who killed the people, it was the guy using it" which is very true.
    Also there is the whole talk about letting the video and the pictures of the killer to be released, i know its not going to be nice for certain people to see the pictures for example the people who have family members killed and people who survived the torment. But if they where not released then the tabloids and papers would have been our only way of finding out information about this incident from a member of the publics point of view, and we would have our minds filled with bulsh*t that the tabloids tell us and by these pictures, videos and letters being released we have the truth as to why he went and did everything that he did, not the crap and bulsh*t that the paper tell us.
    This is MY view of this situation but i think that the government or whoever has f*cked up AGAIN because the guy who shot all the people was know to have mental problems and I’m not quite sure what they were but he was thought to be suicidal and had a past of creeping out 2 girls and having a restraining order put in place. So this guy was known to have problems so how did he manage to plan this event, make them videos/pictures/letters and get the gun he should of had people looking after him or at least a record because if they knew he might be suicidal then surely he would of had a record so that he couldn’t buy weapons of any sort.
    But no the government or whoever should have done it but couldn’t be arsed to put this in place and now 33 people have lost there lives just because someone could be arsed so sort this out.
    So instead of having the blame thrown about from person to person someone just sit down and work out how to stop this sort of event from happening again!
    Thanks for reading my View

  14. Unknown says:

    By giving so much attention and publicity to this video, he has become the single, central figure of this tragedy. Every single person that he killed also had a story and they deserve for their stories to be immortalised more than his story of hatred.

  15. Kerim says:

    Any information surrounding the tragic events at Virginia Tech should be made available to those members of the public who wish to access it, but not featured in mainstream news programmes where those who do not wish to view it may be unavoidably subjected to it anyway.
    My personal opinion is that the withholding of the types of material being debated does far more harm than good and, almost always, anything that is either "banned" or censored becomes, by definiton, far more sought after and attains more notoriety as a result.
    Finally, my thoughts are with the family and friends of all those who so needlessly lost their lives during the terrible events that unfolded last Monday.

  16. Esa says:

    Although the actual event was horrific, it was most certainly not out of line to show the world what this troubled soul\’s mind thought. It hopefully gives us a chance to see how we treat people, and single out people for differences. Obviously people drove him to do that, without a doubt, but that doesn\’t make his action correct. The whole idea of showing the world what happened is in the same line with showing Saddam Hussein being executed, regardless of the countless inhumane crimes he committed. It was the same senseless act of replaying the demolition of the World Trade Centers over and over on television. We see these negative acts daily, yet we fail to realize that this isn\’t one person\’s fault. The world is facing its immoral doom. But do we really care? So why all the humbug about Cho\’s seemingly psychotic thoughts? He\’s not the first, and he won\’t be the last. I\’d say let this be a lesson to us to take note with regard to how we treat others. But come on, who am I trying to fool?

  17. Grace says:

    I think lor makes a really valid point, but Virginia Tech have shunned the media. In time I\’m sure they will tell their stories, each giving a little more insight into the events. But for now the media only has information that Cho gave to them – so they are telling his story. Although this is somewhat giving him what he wanted, I think it is good that the video was shown so that we can learn from it. If the horrific-ness of this event was watered down for us then we may not make the changes necessary, in systems like the mental health system and in gun laws, that could prevent this happening again.

  18. Kelsey says:

    I don\’t know if the question is necessarily whether or not MSN or any other single publication was wrong to show the footage, but whether or not we as a country have the right to show it.  They have made such a large deal about protecting his privacy and not telling if or if not he went to counseling, what about the rights of that school and students?  Don\’t they have the right to not have to see it everywhere they turn?  And since that is not technically and written right, where is our conscience as a country? Not only have we shown the killers video but we have also invaded their privacy and televised every single moment of rememberance services.  Is that not a little out of line?  We claim that these services are to help them, but who\’s to say they aren\’t just a "look at how nice we are to the poor little victims" scheme, do we really have nothing else to televise?

  19. Shelley says:

    Hi, I looked at the video firstly out of curiosity and then out of horror. I understand why the video was shown, maybe it is better these things are out in the open. This aside, it was a deeply disturbing picture of how such a mentally ill person could spiral into a deep hatred of those around him. If anything, it adds weight to the arguement that this person should never have been allowed to buy a gun (If you have a box on a form asking if you have had any mental heath problems, surely this should be checked out on a medical register before a gun is handed over to these people!) and maybe the positive outcome will be more vigorous vetting of potential gun owners.

  20. Unknown says:

     With such an important news item it was only right that MSN should have taken the decision to show the video. By placing the video on MSN it allows anyone who wishes to view it that option. As with all systems such as TV or the internet, anyone not wishing to have a look at this – or any other video – has the option not to. Had MSN decided not to put this item up then accusations of censorship would no doubt have been raised when all other mediums were acreening it.  With any news item, where a video becomes available lets have it up on the homepage. Let the viewer decide whether to view or not to view the item.

  21. Wilfred says:

    No it should not have been shown,further distress for the families involved, and possibly copy-cat attacks.  

  22. Wilfred says:

    No it should not have been shown,further distress for the families involved, and possibly copy-cat attacks.  

  23. Donald says:

    I think all profit driven media will show anything they can for no other reason than to boost vewing figures. There should be no need to reveal this sort of video and pictures.

  24. Unknown says:

    I have chosen not to watch the footage because I don\’t believe it has anything additional to add. The event was horrific, I know that without needing to see the footage. I do not believe such footage should have been made available to the press at all, this is real, not Hollywood. Whilst it cannot help the bereaved or society in general, it can certainly harm through glorification and fame. However, at least MSN kept the pictures to a minimum. AOL loves sensationalist violence and rams it down the throats of all of its users.

  25. Catherine says:

    No, because that\’s exactly what he wanted

  26. Unknown says:

    In a word: "no".  The problem is these kinds of videos could possibly inspire some other deranged madman to do a similar thing. The video was sent to the media so he could become a martyr, the media has done just that – yet again!
    Videos like this should not be shown out of respect of the family\’s involved and to stop glamourisation of murders like this, unfortunately for everyone else – it\’s a bit late now isn’t it?
    The media will do nothing to stop making a quick buck, even if it hurts the public – this is a prime example. I’m not saying keeping people informed is a bad thing, but did they really need to show this?
    Once again – no.

  27. EMMA says:

    no  i was horrified to watch it …those poor families

  28. Night says:

    Its an utter disgrace to show it, and disrespectful of the feelings of all those affected by the deaths. The media are proving adept at finding new depths to sink to.

  29. Trevor says:

    no! no! no! Only encoiurages others to do the same as it appears to give them the chance of becoming known

  30. Minah says:

    Yo, all im saying is that you now know what the media is really like….They dont care about others feelings or how many lives died or what people must be going through….they just want the money! Next thing you\’ll here is.. korean guy is part of the Taliban… har har… -1-

  31. Unknown says:

    all the media coverage has just made him famous now,which is probabley what he wanted all along.We will never forget his name now, for all the wrong reasons.

  32. Sahil says:

    it wa tha rite thang 2 show tha vidz but tha guy wa jus fuukin crazy its good to illustrate that and show what he wa thinkin

  33. Unknown says:

    You have done what he did, wanted people to view it for all the wrong reasons, papers print photos to sell papers, you post the video , why ?  No one will send you to jail for showing it. Life is cheap ? companies are not morally accountable.  Shame on you.

  34. Frances says:

    I think it was disrespectful to all those who died in the shootings, to show the killers video.  By showing the videos we are rewarding the killer and giving him exactly what he wants. The man took time in between the shootings to make and mail the video, he wanted the notoriety otherwise he would have just killed himself.  It is revolting to reward him like that.  Now we remember his name not the names of the victims.  Who deserves to be remembered?     In my opinion, the media is sending the message if you cannot become the next Clinton, Jay-Z or Angelina Jolie, you can achieve fame by taking the lives of 30 others. The media is encouraging other disturbed individuals to do the same.  It\’s completely disgusting, the people who chose to air the video\’s should be fired.    The media argue that people have the right to know why. If there was something to be gained in showing the video\’s the killers face should have at least been blurred.  However, there is no logical reason for murdering strangers, this is a seriously disturbed individual, his motives he discribes on the tape are irrelevant because if they were changed he wouild have done the same thing but for differrent so called reasons. He does not deserve any of the attention he is getting from the media.

  35. Unknown says:

    Clearly this guy will never see the media coverage of his dreadful acts.
    But ……because he will undoubtedly have seen previous coverage of similar events, notably Columbine…Dunblane..etc…..he WILL have known that his actions would be reported in the same way, world wide…… thereby giving him the notoriety(or fame) that he would never have achieved otherwise.
    If that was his aim, then the media have fulfilled his dream…………..and others will have seen an opportunity.

  36. Donna says:

    I don\’t agree that the video was shown. However, all you have to do is not watch. I haven\’t and don\’t intend to.
    Personally I feel that it popularises (maybe this is not the right word) gun culture and has the potential to make people think "Hey, I could get famous here".
    Obviously, we are all entitled to voice our opinions. This is what civilisation is about; freedon of speech should never be repressed.

  37. ENUMA says:

    I was shocked to see the video of the killer broadcast on the media and on this homepage. I wondered what the execs were thinking when they did this — granting the posthumous wishes of a madman! I got no closer to understanding why he did what he did from watching his tirade and I doubt if people all over the world who saw the video are any better off for seeing it.
    What you media people must remember is that the information you disseminate can have far reaching psychological impact on people. Imagine a family sitting down to watch the evening news and parents having to rush to protect their kids from viewing this material as it came on the screen. I seriously think that the families of the victims ought to have been consulted on this issue before the clip was aired. Why did I have to view this rubbish before learning more about the 32 people who were robbed of their lives? Also what about the agony the killer\’s family must be enduring, watching his outburst shown all over the world while they try to grapple with the enormity of what he chose to do? If any part of it was to be aired, his face ought to have been blurred and the dialogue edited to a shorter length. And showing those warlike poses was unneccessary.
    Please do not in the name of chasing after viewer ratings, rush to air such clips before serious deliberation, \’achieving fame by any means necessary\’ is not a maxim that should be encouraged by the media.

  38. Unknown says:

     No the images should not have been shown what about all their familys that need to say their goodbyes. Leave them alone with the memories.My thoughts are with them all

  39. Ian says:

    No   the video should never have been shown….All they are doing is immortalising scum…….The fact is that since the age of television, the media has always glamourised the madman…

  40. matthew says:

    For the sake of the families , loved ones and relatives of those victims of a senseless atrocity , it should not have been shown .  This guy was clearly disturbed and given the access to guns , allowed him to kill many innocent people . For America it\’s too late  , the genie is out of the bottle , any nutter can get a gun and kill . " right to bear arms " gimme  a  break . What about the right to life !
     Let the rest of the world learn a lesson , guns don\’t solve anything , especially in a school .
      … what about the right to life , denied to more than 30 people and their families . 
      When will they learn ? this is not the first and it won\’t be the last .     

  41. Donna says:

    I disagree with the word "scum" to describe him. He was a sick (ill), misguided individual and he should have been helped long before thing ended in in violence and loss of so many innocent lives. People reported his behaiviour to the authorities and not enough was done.

  42. kelly says:

    morals are lost on todays society.  the line between what is acceptable and what is not has been blurred.  no one should have a desire to watch these videos or view the pictures. what has been done has been done, and nothing will change that. the family\’s of the victims need some time, i feel for them knowing about this sadistic package, in graphic detail.   maybe if this wasn\’t all so quick it would be forgivable, but to answer your actual question i wasn\’t surprised.

  43. Jodi says:

      I think that it was very important to show that video.  In fact, I think that they should have shown the whole thing.  It is important that collectively, as a society, we need to be more aware of what is going on.  Maybe this boy was a publicity seeker, maybe not, but from what little insight into this boy\’s mind that I could gather, he was as much a victim as the other thirty – two people who were gunned down.  Coupled with the fact that he was mentally ill, he was also abused in some way from what he has expressed in that video.  Should he be blamed? Yes.  Do I condone his actions?  A resounding NO!  However, do I believe that there was only one culprit?  No.  The school was well aware that this boy was unwell and continued to turn a blind eye.  The fact that this boy possibly could have been helped makes me very sad.  In closing, I do not think that he is a \’loser\’ or any other negative label that has been attatched to this boy but he was clearly in need of help and unfortunately, he was not able to receive it.

  44. Ian says:

    As with all other murderers (because thats what he was) he will always be remembered. One day they\’ll make a film about him and he\’ll be even more famous…………..WHY?

  45. stuart says:

    I think it is horific that they would glamorise a murder in this way.
    I find it sick and very wrong that any one would want to see a video of a murder.
    Why show such a thing? My hart goes out to all that have lost a loved one in this disaster.

  46. keith says:

     i think that the tv station nbc should have withheld the broadcast and handed it to the authorities.
     all they did was to give guy exactly what he wanted – not 15 minutes or even 15 hours of fame – much more than that !
    just going off whats been shown of the more recent shootings, it seems that the next one had to be \’bigger and better\’ than the last.
    so how many next time – 40 – 50 . . . . 100 !
    with approx 200 million guns in the hands of the american public – its hardly suprising whats happened, again and again !
    not being american, brought up with the \’right to bear arms\’ mentality, i dont understand the obsession with guns.
    the west was won over a hundred years ago.
    or is it theres too much money tied uo in sale of arms and munnitions?
    does your average american think its time to change – if not, then nothing will ever change!

  47. Kishan says:

    I heard an american saying that " We should be allowed to take guns inside the class" instead of saying "Ban Guns in America"…..The only way to solve a problem is to actually know the whole thing. I think showing the video was the correct option. Now when everyone knows how it happens maybe it will help if u r in this situation. And one more thing, the only solution for this problem is to " BAN GUNS IN AMERICA" AND " LEGALIZE ABORTION"……

  48. Unknown says:

    i am wondering if showing the video will encourage others if i was told at school i will never amount to anything or become anybody.after seeing that i can see one way people will remember my name.i hope i\’m wrong  

  49. Lisa says:

    wow they clever to trap monaliseee by using fat ugly midget. the pears not stupid n not interested into gun movies the 1 interested is the fat ugly midget cos went pears was lying on sofa the midget had phone call from the mother of midget asking bout pears and ask the stupid midget call pears prentend that dunno how to change and using the gun movies. only fat stupid midget watching the like a desprate prevert. pears was clever to pointed at fat midget unsed willy that his nokia was on i mean was calling a spirit, then pears know all this is a trap to showed that pears is crazy bout gun. but they r wrong pears not stupid and desprate like hell what they are. ha ha ha ha hope e gpverment realised what the admin trying to do to pears.. pears got a proof, im really sad wt all the normal person attitude….

  50. Liam says:

    I feel that it was right to show his side of the story.  Perhaps we can use this to try and understand why he was so troubled and what caused him to commit such horrible acts.  I have already seen papers and other media outlets blaming movies, games and music as the cause of his actions.  I feel that this is reckless and dangerous, especially as it is all speculation.
    Already links have been made to the Korean film \’OldBoy\’ even though there is no hard evidence that he had even watched the film.
    It reminds me of the Columbine tragedy in which Marilyn Manson was blamed for supposedly \’warping\’ the kids into killers.  It was later discovered that the killers weren\’t even fans of the music.  The way in which the media can turn speculation into \’fact\’ is terrifying.
    By showing the video we are able to see first hand what was going through the young mans mind at such a dramatic time and allows us to form our own ideas without having to rely upon the lies created by the papers.
    The right thing was done by allowing us to view this confused boys last desperate cry for help.
    Now perhaps we can resist the urge to lay blame on the most convieniant scape-goat and actually take steps to make sure that such tragedies don\’t happen again.  We all have a part to play in this; whether it\’s stamping out bullying so that a person isn\’t driven to such desperation, or making sure that mentally sick people get the help they need and deserve.
    We shouldn\’t wash our hands of this.

  51. Grace says:

    I completely agree with Liam, showing the video for what it was did not glamourise it. Other media sources have glamourised it by making up falsifications, but I feel that msn were responsible in the way they handled the footage. Making decisions for ourselves is important in this media saturated environment we find ourselves in.People are scared to see what goes on in our society and feel offended when they are confronted with it. Being aware that we all have a part to play in stopping this kind of situation coming to fruition is vital. I believe being able to see the footage has made a lot of people realise that things need to change – not necessarily on a government level (although that should be looked into) – but on a personal level as we look at our relationships with the people around us.

  52. Megan says:

    he killed these people so we could watch the video and understand maybe help others who r like him maybe have others who r like him to see they dont want to be like him and get help.
    we couldnt let these people who lost there lives go to waste and have us all think wot the hell was going through his mind
    and if we cuddnt see the video and pics we would want to and would be going on every site to watch it
    just think about that!!!!!!!
    if anyone does feel as lonely as he did please get help even if u would take such drastic measures

  53. Unknown says:

    I dont really think after the viewing of people jumping out of windows during 9/11 that the footage of this crazy nutter is any more disrespectable then that

  54. Mike says:

    Hitler was immortalised. Does anyone appart from ignorant fools see him as a martyr?

  55. rich says:

    it was gratuitous and unnecessary to play the killers tape. what good can come from airing the rantings of a mentally unstable man?and more importantly where is the sensitivity to the victims and their families?the only \’winners\’ were the tv executives and their stockholders whose advertising returns will no doubt rise as a result of them feeding the publics voyeuristic and macabre appetite. aLthough, to expect a typically crass,bottom-feeding press to act any other way is perhaps as naive,if not more so, as thinking banning guns is a viable possibility.Why not just demand that all bad,nasty,upsetting,slightly sad and even vaguely sad things be banned…

  56. Mark says:

    While I believe there\’s a public interest (morbitity?) argument to publishing this material – I think every network that ran with this footage went out with it too soon. There seems to have been no regard for the families and friends of the victims and killer.

  57. wai says:

    I think it was right to show the video on the homepage.  Why?  Let me give you an example, a friend once complained about a documentary about Tigers being slaughtered for their fur, it was very graphic, the killing and the skinning of the animal.  If it is just reported, it doesn\’t quite have the same impact as seeing it now is it?  I think that video needed to be shown to show just how ill that guy was, look at the hatred in his eyes, his voice, the words he used.  Surely someone should have noticed just how angry this guy was.  I know there are so very narrowed minded people who will direct their hatred at Cho\’s family but how can it be their fault?  No parents in the world brings up a child hoping this is what they do with their life.  I\’m glad there are more understanding people in this world because maybe, just maybe it was this lack of understanding that led to Cho being so disturbed and left to his own devices.

  58. wai says:

    Dracobaby17.  I don\’t believe it.  Someone with a brain and looking at this whole tragedy from a bigger picture\’s point of view.  I agree totally with your comments, especially why didn\’t the colleage do something about him?  He clearly wasn\’t well, he should have been in a hospital on medication and counselling.  You would put a Schizophrenic in a hospital and put them o medication wouldn\’t you?  I just think that society as a whole just doesn\’t care anymore, everyone is busy looking after number 1.

  59. mitch says:

    to answer baldz question and anyone else who might be thinkin the same thing "does your average american think its time to change – if not, then nothing will ever change!" the impression i get from where i live is that people want to change but keep the guns, a large reason for that is i live in minnesota where alot of people like to hunt. but people dont get is that it cant go both ways, there lookin for a change and cant find a way to do it. back to the main idea i completely agree with dracobaby17 and g. cooper. 

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