The notion of sensationalism perpetuating mass shootings

First and foremost, my condolences go to those dealing with the shooting at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado. I always speak to my family and friends after these events because it’s frightening to never know when these thing could occur.

News coverage on mass shootings often raise questions of how the media impacts society, regardless of whether terrorism or some other terrible agitation reveals itself as the cause.

These concerns deserve a platform even if widespread opinion says otherwise, as noted by socio-political blogger Son of Baldwin:

I personally believe that the predatory, sensationalized, media drive-by reporting of these mass shootings contributes to the perpetuation of them. The media treats these stories as commodity rather than humanity, exciting rather than tragic, grief pornography rather than mourning. I think there are some people out there who are convinced, by virtue of this kind of coverage, that these acts come with glory and that is the push they need to go from considering it to doing it.

I think we have to find a more sociologically healthy way of dealing with these events. The media circus is the opposite of the correct site for analysis.

A media circus definitely occurs, but violence existed in humanity for decades before the former. Media often provides greater vision and awareness of this violence without putting the proper context often as noticed during breaking news coverage.

News media (mainly major network giants like Fox and CNN) provide nonstop coverage on things with very little to go on, something that contributes to the problem of breaking news first. Naturally they run with whatever reporters and sources find instantly with little time to analyze the information and consequences.

Jay Rosen told LSU students this October that journalism is not the media. Today’s news organizations provide two things: media coverage and journalism.

Watching Megyn and her Fox cohorts discuss the races of fictional characters as facts to ultimately get attention from people and create arguments is media. That’s not inherently bad; Clay Shirky says more media always means more arguing and changes in media change what sort of arguments are possible. Humanity grows through debate as shown historically and when done properly.

Then there’s Cindy Chang’s Times-Picayune report on Louisiana as the world’s prison capital. This represents investigative reporting, or watchdog journalism, because it takes little persuasion for the average news consumer to want to read it because it’s something that deserves attention.

The news media balances the two to maintain an audience with media while giving them hard information with journalism. This occurs predominately among cable news outlets, which explains people opinion on journalism overall because reports suggest that people often name Fox or CNN when thinking of “news organizations” (that’s a whole different talk for later). 

The problem is too many Americans lack the awareness or desire to differentiate between media and journalism. Understandable once you consider the overwhelming controversy, conflict and attention-grabbing coverage with modern news media relative to watchdog journalism.

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