Parkland coverage turns to when to talk


It seems near impossible to analyze how the news media are responding to the high school shooting that took place on Feb. 14, 2018 in Parkland, Fla. It is unarguably necessary to discuss the way how news media portray such horror contributes to a cycle of perception to representation and back again.

It almost feels inappropriate, which is ironic given the justification often used for prolonging talks— that it’s too soon.

In terms of briefer forms of news media, the cycle prevails through social media; users send thoughts and prayers, share articles, and debate whether or not now is the time to discuss gun control.

Posts have gone up of pro-gun rights users prepping themselves with arguments against gun control for the predicted debates. Conversely, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphey tweeted “Don’t tell me tomorrow isn’t the appropriate time to debate gun violence.” And thus ensues the “should we talk about it or shouldn’t we?” narrative.

Higher profile news sources, such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, BBC, and nearly every other news medium is serving hard and fast facts as new developments emerge, as well as arguments regarding when is the time to discuss the problem. The constant theme, aside for the sentiments of regret and tragedy, is deciding when is appropriate to begin talks.

The over-used argument for prolonging gun control discussion focuses on not using a tragedy as a means for furthering a political agenda. This case is essentially arguing for victim sensitivity, which could perhaps be valid, if only the talks were to take place in given time and more often than not, they don’t.

Half the news media say we should talk about it and the other half uses victim sensitivity as a means to put off hard talks. As a result, we only ever talk about talking about it until we get tired and then quiet down until the next “biggest mass shooting in history” graces our headlines.

This, in turn, undermines both major angles of prevention- the mental health angle and the gun control angle- as both sides perceive the other to be solely agenda-pushing.

When shooting dialogues only take front seat when there is a tragedy, too many valid arguments from both sides are lost in the chaos. Perhaps if the serious discussions were to remain steady and progressive through news media representation, rather than urgent and reactionary as they are often portrayed, our country could actually get somewhere.