Thursday, May 07, 2009


It's been hard, at least for me, not to think a lot in the past day and a half about the murder of Johanna Justin-Jinich at Wes.

Not that I have an actual connection to anyone there now -- just the feeling of a connection. And certainly to that spot; we've all been there, eating our paninis and what not (or black bean soup, when it was Atticus), one time or another. When the story went national pretty heavily this morning, my first reaction was my usual -- why is this young white woman at a fancy college getting all the attention when 15,000 people or so are killed every year in this country? I felt like I had at least some reason to pay attention (maybe?), but that the rest of the world didn't.

Maybe in general we shouldn't obsess over the details of a murder, whether we have no connection or a feeling of a connection or whatever. On the other hand, maybe it ought to go the other way -- that all of those other thousands of people should have their stories told, too. But no, lets not further murder as some commodity. The story on the front page of Fridays's NYT made me a bit frustrated -- most murders within the five boroughs obviously don't get that much attention. But then I ended up touched by it. I dunno.

More specifically on the media part of it, it's a reminder that we should be cautious in the face of the demand for speedy information. Most of the initial reports seem to have gotten the basics right -- as far as we know now. But several CT media outlets initially reported that Morgan was Justin-Jinich's "ex-boyfriend" -- a claim they later backed away from.

I'm particularly interested in the reports that Morgan had written in his journal (recovered from his car) about targeting other Jewish people. It seems straight-forward, but it's one of those things where we haven't actually seen what was there. I can't think of a reason the local police would want to mislead about what it said, but still, so often the anonymous, and even on-the-record sources after crimes say things that turn out not to be true. There was the Columbine case, which I wrote about the other day; another example would be the killings of the high schoolers in Newark the other year, where the motive is, last I remember reading, still under debate.

Obviously, it is a relief that Morgan is in custody tonight. There will be a lot of talk about the lessons learned. Let's take some time to figure it out and not rush to conclusions.

Update 5/11
: The NYT put the story on the front page for a second time on Saturday. Disappointing. And they had 11 people writing or contributing to the story. Those people could have been working on so many other things.


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