Mass shooting coverage ignores humanity

Mass shootings no longer shock us; they have become almost normal. Many American citizens have become numb to these tragedies.

Instead, we think “Oh no, not again…” What’s even worse is that every time this happens, representatives in Congress say that something must be done to prevent these tragedies from happening ever again. Yet they do nothing. Rinse, and repeat. This cycle disgusts me.

“Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it. We’ve become numb to this,” President Obama said after the most recent shooting in Oregon.

The conversation following each shooting that President Obama alluded to involves the media reporting every detail they learn about the shooting, especially concerning the shooter and the controversy over enacting new gun-safety legislation. Many have made the argument that the media should not report so extensively on the shooter, as it might give ideas to other potential shooters or help them plan their attacks.

I agree that we should shift the focus off of the shooter but for different reasons. It’s difficult to prove the claim that the media might be inadvertently inspiring other potential shooters, but it is certainly disrespectful to the families that lost loved ones in the tragedy. Instead of attempting to honor and keep alive the memories of those who have lost their lives, the media tends to describe the shooter in detail to the public, digging into their social media accounts, showing pictures of their homes and various other inconsequential details.

I realize that the media has the right to report on what they want, but this often translates into reporting on whatever will bring in the most viewers. I wish that they would instead focus on two issues: respecting and remembering the victims and survivors of these tragedies and forcing politicians to make meaningful change.

By focusing on the shooter, I feel that we are not doing right by the families who have just been torn apart. We glorify the violence that has been committed instead of assisting the grieving process of the those who have lost a family member, friend or loved one by remembering those who were lost. This media-driven remembrance would be a better use of our time and resources. It is more productive and raises public awareness on the issue of gun violence. It truly can happen to anyone, though we like to pretend that our communities are immune to these sorts of tragedies.

The second item on the media’s agenda ought to be to show that, like the President said, the majority of Americans are ready for, and want to see, new legislation on gun safety. With this as their weapon, the media can then go after politicians who believe more guns are the answer or that Americans value their guns more than the lives of their families.

If, after confronted with the facts, these representatives refuse to acknowledge that we need to change our laws and legislate new ones in order to make our communities safer, then their constituents ought to vote someone else into office who is ready and willing to act.

We can no longer blame mental illness or the evil nature of the perpetrators as the sole cause of mass shootings. That is not to say that neither play a role in these tragic events, but rather that, at this point, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

President Obama said it best when he said, “this is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America.”

If we continue to fail to take any action that would make our communities safer and prevent guns from falling into the hands of those who wish to commit acts of violence, then we are also guilty.

The media has long been an engine of change in our country. By exposing injustice, mistakes and atrocities, the media casts the light of truth on parts of our lives that might have otherwise stayed in the shadows.

The media exposed the Watergate scandal, showed us the true nature of the war in Vietnam and helped us realize that racial discrimination still exists today. This is once again an opportunity for the media to shape the future of our nation. I hope that they realize their own potential and act accordingly.

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