Two nights ago, I ventured out in the cold to The Library, but not the Library with books, computers, and students studying. This was very different. It was a play based upon school shootings in the U.S.
It was heartbreaking and very intense. I almost cried within the first five minutes. They began the play by projecting newspaper clippings of the most recent school shootings. There were so many. The story then delves into the library where the shooting occurs.
Mr. Kurtz told all the students in the library to hide in the AV closet, but there wasn't enough room. So, the main character, Caitlin Gabrielle, her friend, Laura, and two other students hid nearby. The gunman came in and shot Laura, and Joy who was a student. He then asked someone where the other students were hiding. They were also shot and killed. One student assumed that Caitlin Gabrielle told the shooter where the others were hiding.
The scene then changes to the hospital, where her mother and father were discussing what the media thought happened based on what another student said. From a journalistic perspective, everything about the next few scenes were atrocious.
First off, the newspapers never made a wounded victim feel at all comfortable. They wanted the story and didn't care how they got it. The fact that the Gabriel's family felt unsafe going to the newspaper was unacceptable.
Another example of bad ethics that the media followed was the first article where they only talked and listened to the perspective of one student rather than both. They also constantly used bias and made the student, Joy, an angel who prayed up until her death while Caitlin was meant to look like a bad egg. There was even a book published that talked about how Caitlin needed forgiveness.
Another story was published that broke the SPJ code of minimizing harm. The code states realize "Balance the public's need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness." By leaking the fact that Caitlin bought alcohol from the shooter will not help the case, or give the readers any insight into what happened. It will only hurt her, and make her feel worse.
This all happened before the police report came out.
There was also a scene where Caitlin was questioned by authorities, and the impact it had on her. This scene was vital to the play because it showed how a victim of a shooting was treated. The police officer was harsh and showed no sympathy for her loss of her best friend or the injuries she accumulated.
Another scene that was crucial to the production was when her parents went to talk to a lawyer about victim compensation and she received almost nothing unless she retracted her statement about claiming Joy was the one who told the shooter where the victims were.
Then the report came out, and it was Joy who told the shooter where the victims had been to save her life. The shooter AND THE MEDIA ruined this girl's life.