Friday, October 2, 2015

A Skeptic's Guide to Media Coverage of Mass Shootings

Late tonight, I posted a new piece on New Republic: A Skeptic's Guide to Media Coverage of Mass Shootings. Here's how it happened.

Tweets can be useful, now and then. I got a wonderful one yesterday afternoon, with this graphic to the right.

It was created by Alex Goldman in 2013, for NPR’s On the Media: “Breaking News Consumer’s Handbook.”

It was so wonderful, and so timely again on this awful day when a gunman killed at least 9 other people on at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.

I tweeted the mini "handbook" back and started jotting down additional ideas. Unfortunately, it was a dreaded murder day, so I began shuttling between MSNBC and CNN. (I'll post links if they put the clips on the web.) In between, I kept adding ideas, and then working with my wonderful New Republic editor, Ryan Kearney. We shuttled ideas and edits back by cellphone from the makeup chair, and the green room, and I made the director very nervous typing a message through the last ten seconds of the commercial break before my spot on AC360.

There was lots of tweaking to get all the latest facts right, because ironically, as I was writing about facts being misreported, the "facts" we were citing in the piece kept changing (eg, 13 deaths down to 10, and still inconsistent reporting on whether that included the gunmen). Around 11 p.m., we posted it: A Skeptic's Guide to Media Coverage of Mass Shootings

And this new 12-minute video 'Haunted by Columbine' by New York Times and RetroReport could not be more relevant. It documents how most of the crucial facts about Columbine were misreported 16 year ago, and still with us today.

This is sadly relevant, too, especially given the sheriff's statement. My 2013 Buzzfeed piece: "Let’s Stop Naming Mass Shooters In Our Reporting."

Update: We added our own graphic that you can cut/paste/post:

1 comment:

  1. A little scary to realize that you were so well-prepared and "on the job" to be able to create such a timely piece pretty much "in the moment" like that. I guess the frequency with which these events are occurring now, may have made that moment inevitable for you. Really glad to see that, even this morning, all across social media and the news I am seeing *far* more coverage of the presumed hero, than of the mostly-un-named man who shot him. You really are making a difference, Dave!