Media normalizing mass shootings
As journalists, we are taught certain principles that decide what stories we cover. An event becomes “newsworthy” when it is unusual, when it can capture the interest and play on the emotions of the reader. And we are taught to be completely objective about the event as it unfolds. It is utterly frightening then that by this standard, mass shootings can no longer be considered “newsworthy”. Mass shootings, at schools or churches or wherever they happen to occur, have become commonplace. They have become just another mundane example of daily life in the United States.
We can no longer rely on abnormality to capture the attention of readers, since, as we observed with the shootings at NAU and Texas Southern University, one ends as another begins. This has led to an almost nonchalant attitude in others. Where the news of mass murder used to evoke sorrow and compassion, our audience is now unfazed, and passes the newest headline with a sort of resigned indifference. Objectivity is an attribute that is highly prized in the world of news, but we journalists can no longer remain unbiased on the topic of mass shootings. It is painfully clear that, whether through changes in legal action or social pressure, something must be done.
Our sources are sick of speaking to us. School administrators, policemen and psychologists are all tired of answering the same questions. Parents and loved ones of the slain have all made the same pleas and have grown weary. Mass shootings should be devastating, tragic events, but now, they have as much of an emotional impact as a traffic jam. It’s just another day.
As journalists, we seem to be writing the same story over again. Asking the same questions. Arriving on the same scene. But it’s time for a new story.