Z on TV Critic David Zurawik writes about the business and culture of TV

Expect wall-to-wall coverage of March for Our Lives, Stoneman Douglas student protesters

From the cover of Time magazine to virtually every news channel on the dial, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas seem to have been almost everywhere in our media lives since the shooting that left 17 dead at the school.

Saturday, you can drop the “almost” part. Coverage of the March for Our Lives in Washington is going to feel like it is everywhere — especially on TV.

And the coverage matters, journalistically and culturally.

CNN and MSNBC have extensive, all-day coverage planned. CNN starts special coverage at 6 a.m. Saturday, while MSNBC rolls at 8 a.m. Both will start with previews this afternoon.

Fredricka Whitfield, Alisyn Camerota, Ana Carbrera and Brooke Baldwin will anchor Saturday for CNN, with Erin Burnett and Van Jones hosting special editions of their shows featuring the students.

CNN will have crews and correspondents in Los Angeles, New York, Parkland, Chicago, Denver and Boston for marches in those cities.

Brian Williams will be anchoring Saturday afternoon coverage on MSNBC. Coverage there will include show hosts Joy Reid, Ari Melber, Chris Matthews ,Lawrence O’Donnell and correspondents in major cities across the country.

Julio Vaqueiro will anchor coverage for Noticias Telemundo, which will include correspondents in Washington, New York, Los Angeles and Parkland.

And it is not just cable. CBS News will offer a one-hour documentary titled “39 Days” at 8 p.m. Saturday. It is the work of network journalists who have been embedded with Stoneman Douglas students since the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland.

That’s only a sampling of weekend coverage.

All the major networks and cable news channels will have non-stop, digital coverage as well.

Journalistically, an event of this size is big news in its own right. But the cultural story matters, too.

Outside of the NRA and some far-right voices in social media that unsuccessfully tried to question the authenticity of the student protesters, the media have overwhelmingly responded with positive coverage — as well as respect and support for the survivors.

I am one of those journalists who felt that way since the moment I saw students live tweeting and posting video interviews in social media during and immediately after the massacre. The more I saw of the students, the more I liked and respected them.

These students have a moral authority on the subjects of guns and school safety simply by nature of what they survived. I can only imagine what it is like at that age to see classmates and teachers gunned down. (You can read more from me on that here.)

So, when they speak, we adults should listen. And we should admit to ourselves, at least, that we should be ashamed for not doing a better job of protecting our children. We should be deeply ashamed, especially those politicians who have sold their civic souls for NRA money.

The students also won my respect by refusing to be passive about what happened to them. They know the compromises and lies made by their parents’ and grandparents’ generations that have put them in this vulnerable space. And instead of accepting it, they have used their impressive media skills to make their own case for a safer America. Saturday’s march is the objective correlative of that.

I thank these students for the jolt of moral clarity and dose of idealism that they bring to American life at this dark and troubled moment in our political lives. They are the antidote to the rancor, lies and ugliness of President Trump’s Washington.

They are easier to like than the protesters of my baby boomer generation. For one thing, they are younger than most of the college students who were in the streets protesting the Vietnam War.

And they are nicer than we were. My generation of students was in your face with our denunciation of mainstream culture. These students are mainly just asking for laws that will make high schools safe enough for them to make it to graduation.

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

twitter.com/davidzurawik

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