How and race of the perpetrator would most

How the Media Covers Shootings
of Color Differently Than Shootings by White Men 

Team #4 –
Argument Essay Outline 

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When a drunk driver kills a family of four it might make the local
news; if a shooter takes the same amount of lives, it makes national
news. The age, gender, and race of the perpetrator would most likely be
mentioned, but in a shooting incident it is often emphasized. People have
preconceived notions about shooters and who they are. However, the media plays
a huge role in drawing these lines. Shooting coverage often does the
public more harm than good; media coverage exposing the public to explicit
details and images and stereotypes mass shootings hinged on the shooter’s race,
gender, and color.

The media
shouldn’t reveal images or explicit details of the shooter or the event, as
this makes future shootings worse, because other criminals see it as a
competition. When media covers such events as mass shootings they often reveal
images and explicit details of the shooter and what happened during the tragic
event. They say that the public has a right to know, but there are instances
where the media needs to draw the line and think about how the public may react
to such details. There have been studies that show that future mass shootings
become worse when the killer’s name and images are disclosed. They have also
become closer together where they shootings are happening more frequently. For
instance, in Sutherland Springs, Texas 26 churchgoers were killed on November
5, which happened 35 days after the Las Vegas massacre. Then in Rancho Tehama,
California 6 people were killed on November 13, which was only 8 days after the
Texas shooting. If the media keeps stereotyping mass shooters and providing
explicit details to the public, there will be many more to come. The media
needs to stop providing such details to the public about the shooter. This
makes the public scared and worried about their lives and how they live; that
is not a way to live. We need to be able to live a happy life worry free. Media
coverage has different effects on the world every day.

When the
media is covering mass shootings, often they are using certain words when
calling it a mass shooting. The media covers mass shootings all over the world,
while using such words as “deadly” or “deadliest”. Using these words can
trigger someone who is already on edge to do the unthinkable. A psychology
professor at Western New Mexico University, Jennifer Johnston argues, “They see
it as a competition.” The killer will try to break a new record when they hear
the word “deadliest”. They will try to outdo the previous killer by having a deadlier
mass shooting than before. The media should stop calling mass shootings the
“deadliest in U.S. history”. When this happens, there will always be another
“deadliest” mass shooting. The media needs to be careful in what they say on
the news when releasing it to the public.

The media
talks about the weapons used in mass shootings and sometimes even more details
as to the specific gun and ammunition used as well. Weapons are the reason that
most mass shootings happen. This is because they are readily available to many
people around the world. The problem is that they end up in the hands of the
wrong people. Even a person who is inexperienced with weapons can learn how to
operate a gun very easily. They can easily look up how to operate, load, put
together and dismantle any weapon on such things as YouTube because of the
technology we now have today. Argued by William P. Gardner, an epidemiologist
at the University of Ottawa, and written and published by Michael Hiltzik, a
reporter for the Los Angeles Times, “Data graphs suggest that at least one more
mass killing by gunfire is due in the U.S. before the end of the year.”
Unfortunately, this will probably not lead to more regulations on firearms,
which is what we desperately need. The public doesn’t always need to know what
types of weapons are used in shootings, as this may make the next person try to
have a much bigger weapon in the next mass shooting to happen. The media should
just stop being a tell all to the public when it comes to mass shootings, as it
seems they are making it worse.

When the
media does coverage about a mass shooting, they all tend to stick with using
certain phrases in the aftermath, pertaining to racism and the way people
perceive one another. Here are some statistics to show you exactly what I’m
talking about. The most common used phrase is “hate crime”. This phrase was
used forty-four times in the aftermath of the Charleston Church shooting, which
involved a white killer. The “criminal record” phrase was used the most of four
times after the Dallas police shooting that involved a black killer. The
“radicalized” phrase was used most after the San Bernadino shooting, at ten
times, which involved a killer of another race. The other races include Asians,
Latinos and individuals with Middle Eastern roots, according to the Mother
Jones US mass shooting database. The next phrase, “radical Islamic” was used
ten times after the Orlando nightclub massacre that involved a killer of
another race. The phrase “ISIS inspired” was used twelve times after the
Chattanooga military center shooting, which also involved a killer of another
race. The phrase used second highest on the list at thirty-eight times is
“domestic terrorism”, also after the Chattanooga military center shooting which
was done by a killer of a different race. Lastly, is the phrase “terrorist
attack” which ranks third on the list at twenty-six times, after the Orlando
nightclub massacre happened, that involved a killer of another race. There are
more statistics about these phrases being used in different mass shootings, but
these were the highest ranked and most used ones. Using phrases such as these
can put the world in a huge scare, especially when the terrorism or terrorist
is used. We are all afraid of a terrorist attack to happen in our homeland, but
we like to think that it never will. The media should be considerate as to what
they say in the aftermath of mass shootings, as they don’t need to make us any
more scared than we already are. The media should be considerate as to what
details or images of a mass shooting they release to the public, as this can
cause more mass shootings in the future by criminals trying to outdo one
another.

            Male
and females are described in stereotypical ways that are reflected by
the views of gender even though statistics show that shootings
are frequently perpetrated by males. It is perhaps one
of society’s most perplexing?issues that the media is reinforcing
the old standards of masculinity. They are labeling or making
excuses for the killers’ actions based on their gender. The media
continues to present both male and female in stereotypical
ways, with females usually described as sex objects and they are
usually young, thin, beautiful, and often incompetent and/or
dumb. The males are portrayed as active, adventurous, powerful,
sexually aggressive and basically uninvolved in relationships. So, in
the media’s eyes, it would only make sense that a mass shooter be male because
of their masculinity. Females are also less
likely to be interviewed or asked
for their opinion after a mass shooting than
males. If the news could “feminize” its news for one
day, they may see a difference. Then, maybe, the
news could be more gender neutral every day.  Who knows,
maybe it would have a positive effect on the way people see the
world and perhaps even on the world itself.  By
unconsciously equating shooters with a male figure, it may portray that a way
for a male to exhibit masculinity is to participate in this behavior.

News sources shouldn’t draw
fast conclusions, even though there is a higher likelihood that a male is
responsible for a mass shooting than a female. Statistics from Mother
Jones, a nonprofit investigative news organization, states that
since 1982, 98 percent of mass shootings?are committed by males, but the media
shouldn’t automatically assume that when a mass shooting happens
that the shooters gender is a male. The Mother Jones describes
a mass shooting as an incidence in which three or more people, besides the
shooter, are killed. Yet the statistics stated that
there ARE female mass shooters and that not every mass
shooting is performed by a male. The media’s first conclusion is
that they are male and that females are not proficient enough of
performing these acts.  This doesn’t take into account that
females could be to blame if they are the
masterminds behind the shootings. 

According to Joni E Johnston Psy.D., female mass murderers
are uncommon. He contributes it to Pseudo commandos, which is a psychiatry term
for committing premeditated murders with or without suicide that is
motivated by revenge. Johnston describes it as “. . . the type of mass
murderer who carefully and methodically plans his actions and who kills indiscriminately
in public.” As you can see, Johnston also referred to mass shooters as ‘his’.
With the statistics numbers showing that female shooters are rare in
nature, Johnston states that females are more likely to kill people that they
know and when killing strangers, it is usually due to mental
illness.   

This is not about appointing blame, although personal
opinions about the gender of mass shootings may outweigh objectivity and
facts, the facts still remain that when the media jumps on a story too early,
they are dishonoring and/or disrespecting the individual(s) that they are
reporting on.  The more time that the media is pressing to
be ‘on the air’ or ‘meeting their deadlines’, the more
likely fictitious news will be reported.  The media’s
profession is to report the news, and they should, but for the first 48 hours,
the information should not be released to the public about the specifics of the
shooter, victims and circumstances around the shooting until proper
verification is obtained.  

A significantly amount of the media is judging the
perpetrator according to their gender when it comes to violent crimes like
mass shootings with statistics show that the majority of crimes
are performed by males. 

            There
are many ways the media is quick to label and profile criminals based solely on
their up-bringing, wealth, their race/ethnicity, even just the color of their
skin. The media will give its viewers a summarized story of the
criminal’s background and history. Do you think the media will have anything
but negative things to say about this person? Absolutely, the media
will completely wash over any potential reasoning behind why the person is the
way they are and make them look like a monster. Up-bringing plays a
big role of one’s future. Most of the time, rapists/molesters do what they do
because it was done to them as a child. There was a lot of mental and physical
damage done at such a young age, and if they don’t have the resources and
professional help, they are not going to know any better to act on what they’ve
experienced. So in this case, if we have a terrorist, the media might talk
about how they dropped out of school, was an out-cast or was always a negative
person. The media never goes deeper beyond that point; there is a point in time
where something happened to this person to the point of them wanting to hurt
many people. This isn’t something that developed in a day’s time, usually
attacks are well thought out and planned for a long time. It is actually
saddening that in most cases, nobody was able to realize in time
that this person in their life was in a dark place and didn’t get them the
help they needed before it was too late.  

Along with up-bringing, comes
wealth. A latest example of how the media focuses on the income of a
criminal would be the Las Vegas Massacre. They instantly portrayed
Stephan Paddock as a confused, sick man with resources and money to get his
hands-on military-grade weapons. They are also distributing his
5-million-dollar gambling win to the victims affected. On a different
prospective, if someone lives in poverty, even homelessness the media uses that
as a reason for higher crime rates. You will never hear a story being
broadcasted about a white CEO or businessman engaging in any type of illegal crime.
Not only is that because of the color of their skin, it’s also because of their
social status and the connections, and money they have to keep their little
secrets on the down low. An example of this would be the Brock Turner
Case. The rich frat boy who was convicted of three felony counts due to rape
receives a six-month sentence.  

When you’re watching the news and see a new attack arise, what
does the media coverage look like? The media will include a photo of
the suspect, maybe a mug shot, and a very blunt headline usually follows. If
it is someone of decent from the Middle East, something along the lines
of ISIS Radical Islam Terrorist Attack. There are rumors in
media being spread around about the Las Vegas shooter and how
he became a Muslim and practiced Islamic beliefs just six months
before the attack, so they are assuming ISIS is behind it. That
accusation was completely unjustified towards Muslims by saying that just
because you are of that culture, you must be a terrorist.  

We only know what the media
chooses to display. They decide what bits and pieces they want to provide to the
public, usually to try to get us to believe only one side of a story. They
can make anyone look like the “bad guy” by digging up some dirt on them,
mixing it around and provide us with a very twisted version of what they
want us to hear and believe. The media is unfair
and extremely selective when it comes to what they want to show.
They believe that with the information they provide, they can sway people’s way
of thinking, which could be, and usually is one-sided, racist,
selective, biased and misinforming. 

 There are many ways the media
is quick to label and profile criminals based solely on their up-bringing,
wealth, their race/ethnicity, even just the color of their skin. The media will give its viewers a summarized story of the
criminal’s background and history. Do you think the media will have anything
but negative things to say about this person? Absolutely, the media
will completely wash over any potential reasoning behind why the person is the
way they are and make them look like a monster. Up-bringing plays a
big role of one’s future. Most of the time, rapists/molesters do what they do
because it was done to them as a child. There was a lot of mental and physical
damage done at such a young age, and if they don’t have the resources and
professional help, they are not going to know any better to act on what they’ve
experienced. So, in this case, if we have a terrorist, the media might
talk about how they dropped out of school, was an out-cast or was always a
negative person. The media never goes deeper beyond that point; there is a
point in time where something happened to this person to the point of them
wanting to hurt many people. This isn’t something that developed in a
day’s time, usually attacks are well thought out and planned for a long
time. It is actually saddening that in most cases, nobody was able to
realize in time that this person in their life was in a dark place
and didn’t get them the help they needed before it was too late.  

Along with up-bringing, comes
wealth. A latest example of how the media focuses on the income of a
criminal would be the Las Vegas Massacre. They instantly portrayed
Stephan Paddock as a confused, sick man with resources and money to get his
hands-on military-grade weapons. They are also distributing his
5-million-dollar gambling win to the victims affected. On a different
prospective, if someone lives in poverty, even homelessness the media uses that
as a reason for higher crime rates. You will never hear a story being
broadcasted about a white CEO or businessman engaging in any type of illegal
crime. Not only is that because of the color of their skin, it’s also because
of their social status and the connections, and money they have to keep their
little secrets on the down low. An example of this would be the Brock
Turner Case. The rich frat boy who was convicted of three felony counts due to
rape receives a six-month sentence.  

When you’re watching the news and see a new attack arise, what
does the media coverage look like? The media will include a photo of
the suspect, maybe a mug shot, and a very blunt headline usually follows. If
it is someone of decent from the Middle East, something along the lines
of ISIS Radical Islam Terrorist Attack. There are rumors in
media being spread around about the Las Vegas shooter and how
he became a Muslim and practiced Islamic beliefs just six months
before the attack, so they are assuming ISIS is behind it. That
accusation was completely unjustified towards Muslims by saying that just
because you are of that culture, you must be a terrorist.  

We only know what the media
chooses to display. They decide what bits and pieces they want to provide to the
public, usually to try to get us to believe only one side of a story. They
can make anyone look like the “bad guy” by digging up some dirt on them,
mixing it around and provide us with a very twisted version of what they
want us to hear and believe. The media is unfair and extremely selective
when it comes to what they want to show. They believe that with the
information they provide, they can sway people’s way of thinking, which
could be, and usually is one-sided, racist, selective, biased and
misinforming. 

 Media coverage is stereotyping
mass shootings hinged on the shooter’s race, gender, and color, and exposing
the public to explicit details and images. By including many facts,
details, and running large headlines on mass shootings, media
inadvertently promotes copycat behavior, and the
desire of future gunmen to outdo each other, leading to an
increase in the severity of this problem. The media often uses
race as a key descriptor of
the shooter: white shooters are often categorized as
mentally ill and people of color as terrorists. Stereotypes are portrayed not
only of race, but of gender as well.  While
mass shooting is a tragic topic regardless of the circumstances
and reasoning, the media has done the public a disfavor by the way it has
handled the issue.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Cited:

 

Dewan, Shaila, et al. “For Professor, Fury Just Beneath the
Surface.” New York Times, 20 Feb. 2010, www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/us/21bishop.html?pagewanted=al. 

 

Follman, Mark, et al. “US Mass Shootings, 1982-2017: Data from
Mother Jones’ Investigation.” Mother Jones, 15 Nov. 2017, www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/12/mass-shootings-mother-jones-full-data/. 

 

Hiltzik,
Michael, and William P. Gardner. “If you think mass shootings are becoming more
frequent, and worse-you’re right”. Los
Angeles Times, 20 Nov. 2017, http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-mass-shootings-20171120-story.html.

 

Johnston,
Jennifer. “Analysis of 141 Hours of Cable News Reveals How Mass Killers are
Really Portrayed”. Quartz, 14 Oct.
2017, https://qz.com/1099083/analysis-of-141-hours-of-cable-news-reveals-how-mass-killers-are-really-portrayed/.

 

Johnston, Joni E. “Female Mass Murderers.” Psychology
Today, Sussex Publishers, 25 July 2012, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-equation/201207/female-mass-murderers. 

 

(New York residents only). “Mass Shootings in the U.S.” Statista, www.statista.com/statistics/476445/mass-shootings-in-the-us-by-shooter-s-gender/. 

 

Wing, Nick. “When The Media Treats White
Suspects And Killers Better Than Black Victims.” The Huffington Post,
TheHuffingtonPost.com, 14 Aug. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/14/media-black-victims_n_5673291.html. 

 

Zhou, Youyou. “Analysis of 141 Hours of Cable News Reveals
How Mass Killers are Really Portrayed”. Quartz, 14 Oct. 2017, https://qz.com/1099083/analysis-of-141-hours-of-cable-news-reveals-how-mass-killers-are-really-portrayed/.