Media focuses heavily on shooters

Joshua Mounts, Columnist

Josh Mounts
Josh Mounts

The United States has been facing a variety of domestic problems over the last decade and a seemingly rapid increase in the number of shootings or other gun-related violence.

As is the case with most issues within the country, there are people on both sides of the gun control debate.

Guns and the regulation associated with them are very hot and controversial topics in our country; there’s not a doubt about that.

And even though they are hot topics, it seems there won’t be much progress made when taking a look at the stubbornness of lawmakers.

Unfortunately, with gun regulation being up in the air, individuals are still using weapons to harm society.

These events have led to yet another debate centering around the media.

During and directly proceeding horrible events such as a mass shooting, our country’s news stations are sent into a frenzy of gathering the often fleeting details and uncertainty about the evil that transpired.

The purpose of the media is to report and publish the news, but it has reached a point where media has been criticized about its reporting on subjects such as shootings.

UWO student Ronald Boyd is a gun owner and said he thinks the way media presents information during an event involving gun violence should be handled far differently.

“I think showing the images of the shooter over and over again gives the shooter notoriety,” Boyd said. “To me they glorify the shooter’s actions and influence others to follow suit because they will also become famous for killing a number of people.”

Boyd said he believes by decreasing coverage on the criminal’s name and image, it may deter people from mimicking atrocities in the future.

“When a mass shooting occurs, the shooter’s name should be mentioned in passing,” Boyd said. “I know people may find this frustrating, but this would help deter mass shootings. I’m sure they will still occur, but maybe if there is no possibility of notoriety, they will occur less.”

A common argument from the pro-gun side of the debate is the idea of the blame being pinned on the shooter rather than the gun itself.

Boyd said he agrees with this mentality.

“In addition, we need to dispel the myth that guns kill people because if they do, I have some of the laziest guns around,” Boyd said. “Guns may make it easier, but if someone is hell-bent to slaughter people, they can use anything including knives, cars, baseball bats and yes, chainsaws.”

UWO student Sydney Devitt said she recognizes viewpoints like Boyd’s about minimizing coverage about the specific actors in nefarious shootings but still sees the importance in the information at hand.

“Many people believe reporting on the details or focusing on the shooter allows for the shooter to achieve the objective of ‘being noticed’ or ‘fame,’” Devitt said. “While I think this is something the media could do less of, I think when the story first comes out, it is important to address who the shooter is maybe once but should not be the focus.”

Devitt said she sees the potential media, and specifically new media, has when reporting about situations like shootings but thinks it should be done in a different way.

“As a student who has grown up in a time where hearing news report after news report on school shootings, I am an avid believer for increased gun control,” Devitt said. “With increased social media presence and increased access to various social media platforms, I believe the media could have a stronger, more effective role in reporting various shootings.”

Devitt said she thinks a far more effective and important way media could report on shootings would be to focus on the victims more than anything else as well as try to educate the viewers on prevention methods.

“Media has an extremely crucial role in influencing our society and I believe the media should focus on creating a change and educating the people on how to prevent, acknowledge and change these horrible problems rather than glorifying the shooter, even if that is not the message the media intended to give,” Devitt said.

The amount of shootings we’ve had in the past five years alone has been staggering.

Devitt said she thinks the suggestions she offered can help combat the oversaturation of information on the person responsible and help lead to a better and brighter future.

“By utilizing this focus, the media can help avoid our society from becoming desensitized to these problems that plague our country,” Devitt said. “We need to report on what is happening and how to create a change rather than educating people on who the shooter is.”