Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Victims of shootings aren’t just victims

If only there were words to express this tiresome grief that I can not shake; then maybe this story wouldn’t have been so difficult to write. Yet, here I am, again trying to believe in the strength of the weapon of the pen by using it once more.
Consequently, it is in moments of weakness, such as this, that I have doubts about the pen being mightier than the sword. However, I remember that poetry captures pain in a way nothing else can; this idea has kept me writing.
The 36 women and 22 men that lost their lives to a bullet shot from the 32nd floor of the hotel casino Mandalay Bay on October 1, 2017 are bigger than their tragic end.
Each and every injured audience member that attended Jason Aldean’s concert has a larger story than their victimhood under this mass shooter’s wrath. These people’s lives are overthrown by the constant chatter of the United State’s media. The media has continuously implored the US public to focus on the fact that these victims have endured “the largest shooting in American history,” according to CNN.
The ongoing focus on the shooting itself begins to dehumanize those whom survived the mass shooter’s attack. Unfortunately, the lives of these survivors are exploited in a way that creates an excuse to discuss the shooter himself. The rhetoric regarding the shooter and his victims is close-minded and distracting to the larger issue: that these mass shootings continue to occur on nearly a daily basis on US soil.
The constant discussion about the shooter’s identity causes the media to become yet another platform that perpetuates the glamorization of gun violence. The overwhelming amount of coverage that an individual receives after gunning down multiple innocent people is concerning and, frankly, gross.
The newsworthiness of a mass shooter’s face and name being published on every newspaper’s front page is questionable compared to the newsworthiness of a powerful discussion regarding gun violence in America. I am sure that the victims of such events would rather discuss ways to prevent these tragedies from occurring again instead of having their experience and existence be painted as an inescapable victimhood meant to be mourned and nothing else. The number of guns inside of Stephen Paddock’s hotel room does not define the lives of the Oct. 1 survivors.
The blatant disregard that professional American journalism has shown the gun violence issue is upsetting since the media has the responsibility to be a liberator of constructive conversation for the public. The conversation in the majority of media coverage has been soaked with a looming feeling of inevitable doom; as if there is nothing to be done about mass shootings other than mourn them and repeatedly treat the perpetrators as interesting villains worthy of nation-wide investigation.
The nonprofit investigative news magazine Mother Jones, published a story discussing this issue that American media have brought upon themselves and, indirectly, the American public. National Affairs Editor Mark Follman listed six different ways the media can avoid glamorizing gun violence, inspiring future mass shooters and isolating these events in a way that hinders conversation about solutions.
Follman’s suggestions to mainstream media are: “report on the perpetrator forensically and with dispassionate language, minimize use of perpetrator’s name, keep the perpetrator’s name out of headlines, minimize use of images of perpetrator, avoid using ‘pseudocommando’ or other posed photos of the perpetrator, and avoid publishing the perpetrators’ videos or manifestos except when clearly necessary or valuable to the reporting.”
Personally, I decided to follow all six of these suggestions from Follman. The American public deserves a responsible, capable and empathetic media when mourning domestic terrorism.

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Victims of shootings aren’t just victims