By CHARLOTTE MACKINNON
Like the majority of the nation, I have been following the news about the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, which occurred yesterday at 10:40 a.m. and killed 10 people. One thing that came across my feed was an article about a girl who had been on campus when the shooting happened and tweeted, in live time, about the incident. The user @KP_KaylaMarie, a student at the school, tweeted: “Omg there’s someone shooting on campus.” at 10:41, followed by another tweet the minute after: “Students are running everywhere. Holy God.”
The power and immediacy of social media sites like Twitter have been revealed to all of us by now and we’re reminded of it in situations like these. What I found so incredible about the situation was that within minutes of her tweet, her timeline was flooded with incoming tweets from news reporters all over the nation, requesting information and interviews. She was approached, via Twitter, by reporters from ABC News, CNN, New York Daily News, Al Jazeera, and BBC News among others, all requesting phone interviews.
Of course every station wants to be up-to-date on the latest news and they all want their exclusives from eyewitnesses. It’s how the media works. But this girl was basically struggling to stay alive amid the chaos of a mass shooting, and meanwhile, all of these stations are blowing up her Twitter feed trying to secure their interview and up their ratings. Obviously I don’t blame the news media for wanting they information — it’s their job. However, I think there’s a time and a place to get it and it looks pretty insensitive in this scenario.
Another thing worth mentioning here is that it’s actually been proved time and time again that bringing a lot of media attention to senseless tragedies like shootings heavily influences future shooters. Adding that factor into this situation definitely makes me more frustrated with the news stations that approached the girl, because instead of taking into consideration the part they play in preventing future shootings, they’re desperate to get a hot lead on the one happening currently.
The situation in general frustrates me, because obviously the shooting was completely senseless with nothing good coming from it. It’s hard to sugar-coat any way of approaching witnesses when it’s about this type of incident, but it’s these situations that remind why so many people are resentful of the media and the manner in which they cover the news.