Thursday, October 19, 2017

Reporting Mass Shootings

Colleen Howard

As the country begins to heal after the largest mass shooting in history occurred just weeks ago during a country concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, many questions are being raised as to the reporting style of many organizations. The double standard that many people have become enraged with revolves around the issue of race.

The Las Vegas Shooter, Stephen Paddock, was a middle-aged, white male who opened fire on a venue, as mentioned just a few weeks back. The media while reporting on the matter has created a humanized version of the story. Making Paddock out to be more of a regular person who happened upon a merciless act of shooting and killing many concertgoers during this show. The issue here being the double standard that is placed as a result of dividing white male’s wrongdoings with any other race or gender’s wrongdoings.

While making the shooting seem as if it was an outlier to his love of country music and his shared love of gambling, many issues have been raised as a result. The fact that anyone would attempt to humanize a man who committed such horrendous acts can all be boiled down to the fact that society looks at white males in a light that many others may not get the pleasure of knowing. Many took to Twitter and other forms of social media to bash the rather neutral light that media has shed on him. Stating that a Muslim person would not have received similar humanization and the sad reality is that it is true.

Of course, ethics plays a huge role in the release of a statement that sheds a less than negative perspective on Paddock. The motivations behind the piece become questionable and that’s when the issue of race comes into play. Why post something that humanizes the man who committed the largest mass shooting in history? Because society has and continues to institutionalize privilege for white males.

The New Yorker wrote an article providing some context from a man who had previously rented the same room as Paddock Providing that,"we don't need to humanize him. We don't need to try and understand him, since we likely never will." This article also dives into another interesting fact that Paddock was attempting to “play God” from that hotel room. 
Only furthering the idea that white male privilege dominates in society.  Even in the headline of a New York Times article, the mention of Paddock as a gambler who drew little suspicion stands before his name as opposed to gunman or mass shooter. Although, this is most likely a follow up article, the mark he put on history should illuminate his flawed actions before all others.

When we fall back on old, outdated ways, we are unable to move forward. Humanizing anyone who commits such a terrible act is wrong. But humanizing a white male for a terrible act simply due to his race is even more troubling. Posting ideas with such ethical issues brings us many leaps backward as society attempts to take steps forward. Unfortunately, we must look to media to correct the problem that society has created.

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