Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, October 20, 2018

Quick Take: How has the media changed the way it covers shootings in recent months?

ABOUT THE QUICK TAKE
Every Friday, the Quick Take columnists will offer their views on an issue of significance to AU. Notable members of the campus community will also be invited to contribute to this feature. Suggestions for topics and other ideas from readers are welcome and encouraged, so please submit comments to edpage@theeagleonline.com.

Audiences, not outlets, determine the amount of media coverage for shootings
By Katlyn Hirokawa

Within the past year-and-a-half, our country has endured the shootings of Sandy Hook, Aurora and most recently, the Navy Yard. With the increased frequency of these mass shootings, people have criticized the media for supposedly glorifying the perpetrators and only choosing to publicize negative news coverage.

One of the many criticisms is that the media puts the killers on a pedestal. This holds true to a certain extent, but the public plays a larger role in the glorification of these mass shooters. The media publicizes the shooter because the public wants to know more about them: their motives, their background and generally who they are as a person. As humans, we feed into our natural curiosity, so is the media really to blame?

There is also the belief that media likes to focus on the most negative of events, which also glorifies these mass shootings. But where is the line between not providing enough news coverage and providing too much? The public would criticize the media if, in turn, they did not cover events like the shooting at the Navy Yard. If reporters did not cover these events, some might even start to think that the media is is trying to hide information from the public, or say that they are not doing their duty.

The goal of the media has always been to inform viewers and readers of world events, good or bad. When terrible massacres happen, the media has a duty to cover those events. We cannot expect ourselves to be fully informed citizens, but at the same time criticize the media for its coverage. After all, the media is showing us what they cover, because we choose to watch it. If they did not think that their articles would be read or that their broadcasts would be watched, then they would in turn not show the content that is not being read or viewed.

If we want to change the news coverage of events such as shootings, then as a society we need to change what we want to view, or decide not to be media consumers. It’s even possible that we can take it a step further and try reduce violence on a cultural and societal scale, so that mass shootings do not happen in the first place.

Katlyn Hirowaka is a freshman in the School of Communication.

News of more violence, lost lives hurts our ability to feel compassion
By Rathna Muralidharan

Every day, news readers wake up expecting something horrible to happen. Before getting out of bed, they harden their hearts for whatever bad news the day will bring. Before brushing their teeth, they imagine what new attack will hit the world today. Shootings, rapes and terrorist attacks – all of these have become normal things to hear about. And with every life lost, we lose a little bit of our empathy as well. It’s not just the the victims who die at each shooting; it’s the survivors as well.

Our downfall started with 9/11, but it has been falling rapidly with every attack since. We judge one another based on race and religion, led by news coverage to discriminate against the innocent because of actions by a small minority.

Just a few short years ago, the country experienced shock over the shooting in Aurora, Colo. during the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises.” The aftermath left the nation in a state of rage spurred on by media coverage, with people demanding justice and assurance that such a crime would never happen again.

A few months later, we were surprised once again by the shooting in Sandy Hook. President Barack Obama was brought to tears while recounting the unfathomable attack on innocent children, and the nation wept with him.

Now, the news coverage of the Navy Yard shooting is almost as apathetic as its audience. We heard the news and felt the initial stab of shock before chastising ourselves for even bothering to be surprised. Violence has become so regular in the news that we are more surprised when a day goes by without a shooting. With each attack, we lose a little more of our humanity with each death, we lose a little more of our faith in the world; with each cynical expectation, we lose hope.

Gandhi once said “we must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

In order to ensure that the media- and in extension, society as a whole- will stop treating shootings and other attacks in such a blasé manner, we must stop accepting brutality as an indisputable part of life.

As citizens, as survivors and as witness, we owe it to the victims of every act of violence to never forget the ordeal they and their families have been through. Hopefully one day, we’ll be able to once again live in a world where violence isn’t accepted as an everyday part of life.

Rathna Muralidharan is a freshman in the School of International Service.

Lack of importance given to shootings by media worsens the problem
By Emma Williams

Over the past decade, mass shootings have seemingly become a part of normal life in America. In the past year there have been shootings all over the country that have attracted major media attention, but in the coverage of the Navy Yard shooting only two weeks ago there was a pronounced shift in importance. News organizations from Fox to MSNBC started to treat this senseless tragedy as minor, as though it was to be expected.

After events as shocking as the shootings at Newtown and Aurora, it is difficult for both the media and the general public to be shocked or outraged about events like this anymore. When something as horrible as the Newtown shooting happened in our supposedly safe country, and without any legislation passed afterward to prevent future disasters, it is easy to think that nothing will lead to a change in gun laws. Everyone is resigned to the fact that no laws can be passed in the foreseeable future to stop these shootings. And because of the constant lobbying of members of congress from outside groups like the NRA, we have begun to just accept shootings as a normal part of life.

Still, this view is incredibly detrimental to the well-being of the country. It is important to be angry and upset about not only the shootings themselves, but also the blasé attitude the media has paid toward them. Sitting passively by while more and more lives are taken by psychopaths who should not have access to any guns, let alone military-grade assault rifles, will not fix the problem. Although it seems hopeless, we still need to continue writing, lobbying and protesting until we have at least done something to prevent these shootings. Even if shootings still happen after gun control legislation is passed, we will at least know that perhaps one more homicidal maniac was barred from owning a gun and killing dozens more innocent people with it.

We have to remember that shootings, as well as bombings overseas and daily gang violence in cities like Chicago, should not be normal parts of our lives. It is not normal or healthy to see a story about a shooting and classify it as minor because ‘only’ twelve adults were killed, instead of twenty children.

_Emma Williams is a freshman in the School of Communication. _


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