News Media Must Re-Examine Role in Shooting Coverage


Kayleigh Harrower | Lindenlink Contributor

The media’s 24 hour extensive coverage of mass shootings exposes the public to an overdrive of information that potentially changes their ideas about these circumstances. Lindenwood University senior Hazal Celik said “It is so graphic in nature I sometimes find it difficult to watch.” If mentally healthy people find it difficult to digest the media’s information frenzy then what influence will it hold on those who desire to commit such atrocities?

When such events occur news stations begin distributing an influx of information that is not required. Diagrams of how the shooter entered, where the bullets hit and where people were killed scar our television screens. Interviews designed to gain emotional feedback are played continuously. Children in school shootings are interviewed on national television after witnessing horrific scenes. They are too shocked to relay any information of importance and merely cast a light on the horrific nature of the event. It is not necessary but draws people in.

Andrew Allen Smith is a media professor at Lindenwood University and said “it makes people think the world is significantly more violent than it is.” He said people that go on to do these things “see the publicity as something they want.”

I think if you are mentally ill and unstable enough to consider doing something like this the dramatized coverage will only encourage the behavior. Every shooting is covered in this way and these people see this publicity and this pattern. These killers become famous in a matter of hours which is disturbing.

News sources should focus on the facts of the story to stop casting these events in this light. Not only does it desensitize the public to these gruesome events but it does show these killers the celebrity status they can achieve through these shootings. Perhaps they should focus more on publicizing the sentencing rather than focusing on the nature of the event. If they localize it and only distribute the bare bones information it will prevent people hearing about these occurrences repeatedly. Many people believe the world is getting more violent but in reality news is much more widely accessible and is distributed more frequently than ever before. These crimes are showcased as soon as they happen anywhere in the world creating this. As a result of the wide scale publication those in the position to do something of this nature hear about it more often and are accustomed to it. The media needs to take some responsibility for this.

Media outlets should present the raw and basic facts from these events and instead of distributing them globally on 24 hour cycles, the story should contain the information the relative public needs and updates should be continued as more information is provided on the story.