By REBECCA COHEN
In Newton, Conn., at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 28 people lost their lives to a gunman.
Tragic; however, this is only one of the many school shootings that have occurred in recent years. It remains a mystery where or how these people develop the desire to massacre.
However, critic Roger Ebert provided some insight last year to the phenomenon.
“Events like this, if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia,” said Ebert.
“The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”
These murderers, who would otherwise die unknown, become famous. We all know their names, hometowns and family history. We, as Americans, follow their trials diligently and go over their personalities a hundred times over.
This obsession is lead by the media. The media digs up these stories, the shooter’s history, and conducts interviews with their friends and family — thus giving the shooter what he or she originally intended. His or her voice is now heard. Their message of hate has been broadcast by our own American media.
When the Sandy Hook shooting occurred in December 2012, some media networks started to focus on the children and not the shooter. This was monumental, and is how all tragedies should be approached.
However, the media have since gone back to their old ways – most notably by putting the “Boston Bomber” Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Although the magazine was boycotted by some drugstores and supermarket chains, it was still heating up newsstands.
The caption read, “The Bomber: How a popular, promising student was failed by his family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster,” framing Tsarnaev as the victim.
Why they would do this remains a mystery; however, according to reports, the controversial cover nearly doubled sales.
If the media would like to help Americans and protect them from more tragedies, it must take a different approach. By being careful not to glorify shooters, the media should focus on the victims and their families – ensuring that the shooter’s message is not heard.