Change of focus in shootings news?


While the news media are reporting on the horrific shooting at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College, CNN covered the topic with a feature on the man who tried to save his class. The story is CNN’s main coverage linked to the shooting, posted on their websites front page, boldly titled “Oregon shooting hero tells gunman, ‘It’s my son’s birthday today’,” which gives a new view on handling stories of this nature.

A complement article by CNN interviewed Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, who stated “I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act. You will never hear me mention his name. We would encourage media to avoid using it, to not repeat it. We encourage you not to glorify and create sensationalism for him. He in no way deserves this. Focus your attention on the victims, on the families, helping them get through this difficult time.”

While I believe that the shooter’s name should be stated for investigative purposes, Sheriff Hanlin has a good point. Rather than emphasizing the shooter’s name, it was only mentioned once near the end of CNN’s article. Instead, CNN widely reported on the heroic actions of Chris Mintz, who took seven bullets trying to save his classmates. He held the door against the shooter who shot him three times until he gave in. Mintz then told the shooter “it’s my son’s birthday today,” which left the shooter unfazed and Mintz to take four more bullets. Despite these seven bullets, he survived and is expected to recover.

Since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, nearly one school shooting has occurred per week according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. These astounding numbers show how an event can have a massive chain reaction. However, the news media’s new outlook brings hope. Since many school shooters’ motives include having their name known and their ideas spread to others like them, if their names are not emphasized, then they will not receive the infamous fame that they want. The news media should emphasize the heroes in these tragedies and what the victim’s families are doing to help.