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Thursday, June 20
The Indiana Daily Student

Criminal TV

Criminal Charles Mozdir was found, of all things, by a tip from a television show.

Mozdir was accused and arrested in a California child-molestation case in 2012. He jumped bail and disappeared.

Then, on July 20 his story was told on an episode of “The Hunt with John Walsh,” a show about tracking fugitives.

During the show, investigators received a tip about his location. When the episode was re-aired Sunday, another tip came in, and on Monday police were able to track Mozdir to a smoke shop in New York City.

Mozdir fired on the officers and was killed in the shootout.

Mozdir’s death brings into question the methods used to catch him.

Of course the television show was instrumental in finding Mozdir and produced real, helpful results. That’s a lot more than many other shows can say. But does this entertainment-based focus diminish the tragedy of the case? Does it give too much attention to the accused?

It definitely has that risk. It’s similar to how, after a teenage suicide, a public outpouring of grief could encourage other teens to harm themselves to receive the same kind of attention. Or consider shows such as “Teen Mom” which depict and sensationalize teenage pregnancy.

They dilute the true consequences of being a teen mom.

“The Hunt” isn’t the same as “Teen Mom,” but the shows share similar criteria.

They both document an unusual topic and broadcast it to a wide audience. They are both labeled and viewed as entertainment. They both provide ample opportunities for people who desperately crave attention.

“The Hunt” and John Walsh’s other show “America’s Most Wanted” have successfully captured criminals. But this success doesn’t diminish the possibility the show will be misused by people who will do anything to get their five minutes of fame, even if that means harming others.

Should “The Hunt” do anything about that vague possibility?

I’m not sure.

There isn’t much the show can do to prevent such a situation from occurring. But it is something to keep in mind. Our obsession with sensationalized news allows those who do great harm to take the spotlight.

Maybe the best option for dealing with criminals doesn’t involve a prime-time manhunt.

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