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PBS plans weeklong 'After Newtown' study

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By Lisa De Moraes
The Washington Post
Published:
PBS will air a weeklong dissection of December's elementary school mass shootings in Connecticut under the umbrella "After Newtown."
"PBS is not where you go for breaking news," PBS chief Paula Kerger told TV critics in announcing the project, which will debut Feb. 18. "Where we can add to the conversation is to step back … and say: 'OK, where are the big issues and where does this take us?'"
The week of "Newtown" programs will look at violence in the media, gun laws, mental illness, school security and other topics connected to the killing of 20 schoolchildren and several adults in Newtown, Conn.
The programming will span the PBS franchises "PBS NewsHour," "Frontline," "Washington Week With Gwen Ifill" and "Nova."
In moments of tragedy, "there's lot of fascination with the event itself," Kerger said.
"Frontline," in collaboration with the Hartford Courant, will profile Adam Lanza and his relationship with his mother, who was among those he killed in Newtown. "Raising Adam Lanza" will look at the young man who killed students and adults on Dec. 14 before committing suicide -- leaving his motives, and life, largely a mystery.
"Frontline" also will report on the battle over America's gun laws and gun culture.
"Nova" will air "Mind of a Rampage Killer," which will ask what makes a person open fire in a theater, church or classroom, and whether science can provide clues to prevention. "Nova" correspondent Miles O'Brien will look at new theories that suggest the most destructive rampage killers are driven not by the urge to kill but by a death wish.
Kerger's announcement, on the penultimate day of Winter TV Press Tour 2013, punctuates two weeks of discussion with industry execs about TV's responsibility in its depiction of violence.
"It certainly fits into the way we think about what's in front of kids," said Kerger, adding: "The kind of programming you're talking about has not found its home on public television."
Story tags » Television

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