Monday, October 23, 2017

Gabrielle Howell

In recent media history, more and more reporters find themselves writing stories about the unthinkable events that are occurring. Mass shootings have continuously been appearing in the media and it is an incredibly hard topic to cover. Reporters have to keep in mind that they have a job to do, but have to remember to tread extremely carefully with the content they write, as well as any digital media that is used along with the story.

The families of the victims and the wounded are going through an unimaginable time and are experiencing the aftermath of one of the most sickening acts of violence. A topic as sensitive as this has to be written carefully; negative consequences can erupt if an article is written poorly or is not portrayed in the correct way.

An important factor to keep in mind is that if a mass shooting story is not written correctly, it could lead to individuals becoming more inclined to commit the same act.  Harmful media reporting can also hurt the victims and their families even more. I personally think that a reporters second most important duty when writing about mass shootings is to think of the victims and their families. Obviously the first and foremost goal is to report the truth and serve the truth to the public, but there is a respectful way to do this, that does not cross the line.

A topic that has become increasingly popular with mass shooting articles is how some shooters are more humanized than others. Sadly, it comes as no surprise that the perpetrators who are more humanized tend to be white. This was the case with the most recent Las Vegas incident. In the media, the shooter was described as a country-music lover who lived a quiet life in retirement. These descriptions were completely irrelevant to the fact that he killed 50 people and wounded 500 more.

The fact has been brought up that, in cases from the past, those who are black or Muslim are referred to by the way they have had problems with the police in the past. They are not assigned any human qualities which creates an incredible double-standard with this form of reporting.

Personally, this error in journalism is one that makes me lose a little bit of hope for the field. It consistently shocks me that the Las Vegas shooter was humanized instead of being blatantly described for what he is: the shooter of the biggest mass shooting in modern US history. When he is being described as a country-music lover, it is almost as if the media is looking for sympathy and to make up for the fact of what he did.

The media needs to look past race when reporting on mass shootings, or any act of violence that occurs. The person's race has absolutely nothing to do with the act they committed, they are a human being that committed an unthinkable act. A headline should not say "white male, lover of dogs and tacos, kills 13". Instead, the headline should say "male, 43, kills 13 in devastating shooting", or something along those lines. The likes and interests and hobbies have nothing to do with what they have done.

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