Is the Amanda Knox coverage too much?October 4, 2011 @ 5:44 pm (Updated: 3:09 am - 10/5/11 )
Amanda Knox has been the focus of global media attention since the murder of her roommate in 2007, a guilty verdict sending her to prison, the acquittal this week, and now her return to Seattle.
No detail is too small with this story.
Reporters pointed out Knox "dined on smoked salmon, prawns salad and champagne" on her return flight to Sea-Tac airport. Local TV stations provided live coverage of the commercial airplane's landing. Two national media sites sent out a breaking news text alerts when the wheels of the British Airways plane touched down. While some reporters staked out the Knox family home in West Seattle, hundreds of press from more than 60 media organizations - from Australia, Rome, Los Angeles, New York and of course Seattle - were standing by for her appearance at the airport.
News anchors made observations about her attire and speculated about her demeanor. "Amanda Knox is wearing a plain gray sweater, with her hair back in a pony tail." "Amanda Knox looked calm and collected." "You couldn't tell she'd just been on a long flight."
Finally, the tears from Knox as she entered the room of awaiting press people and supporters who greeted her with loud cheers.
Her first sentence: "They're reminding me to speak in English."
"I'm really overwhelmed right now. I was looking down from the airplane and it seemed like everything wasn't real," she says. "What's important for me to say is just thank you to everyone who's believed in me, who's defended me, who's supported my family. My family is the most important thing to me right now and I just want to go be with them. Thank you for being there for me."
The news conference ended with a request to the press. "Give the family some time. Give them some slack," says Knox family spokesman Dave Marriott. "Give them some peace." Basically, leave the family alone. Should the press leave them alone?
Local news outlets might. Last night around 8:00, local TV stations pulled out of Knox's West Seattle neighborhood.
Local and international media have devoted thousands of hours of broadcast time, online space and column inches to stories about Amanda Knox and the murder victim Meredith Kercher. Although, the majority of that press attention has been about Knox. Has it been too much? Media organizations say it's a "big story" and "people can't get enough of it." True?
Not for a couple of readers who emailed me. "Enough already with the Amanda Knox story. It's too much," says Mark Webster. "This tragedy has disrupted the lives of all those involved. It doesn't make a bit of difference for anyone's life other than her family and friends. Of bigger concern is the national debt and taxes but I don't see news people circling each other's tails to cover that story."
Another reader, Andrew Pulst says, "Admit it, the only reason this story has attention from every media person all the way up to Donald Trump is because Amanda is young and pretty and so was the victim. If they had been homely or non white, this wouldn't get as much attention."
Timothy Egan, Pacific Northwest correspondent for The New York Times agrees, in part, with Pulst, saying "I'm sorry, but that's human nature."
"If all the attention to the Knox episode prompts people to take a second look at other questionable cases, then perhaps the tide from Perugia will lift other boats," Egan writes. In the end, for all the global infatuation over the fate of Knox, this case is about justice for a handful of families. For everyone else — press, prosecutors, Hollywood, two dozen book writers — it’s about something else."
University of Washington digital media educator Kathy Gill says she was "flabbergasted" at some of the headlines surrounding the Knox case, such as The Telegraph's "millionaire celebrity" and she was "appalled" at CNN's Anderson Cooper calling Knox an acquitted murderer. But she's not surprised at the "media overkill."
"The surprise would be if the media were to show restraint," says Gill. "We expect this sort of behavior from Britain's tabloids but not from the US press. Unfortunately this is not the end of US media excess if Hollywood has its way."
Gill calls the coverage surrounding the Knox story at times a "media embarrassment" and a "21st century equivalent of the Roman circus."
Media awaiting a statement from Amanda Knox at Sea-Tac airport. Photo by 97.3 KIRO FM's Brandi Kruse.
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