Shooting headline made ‘unique’


On Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016, a shooting at Alpine High School in Texas left one dead and two injured. Sadly, shootings in America have become so commonplace, that people aren’t surprised and hardly bat an eye when one occurs.

For a news network like CNN, which survives on viewership and popularity, that fact is somewhat problematic. The news media must determine how to recapture America’s interest in shootings or else there is no point in reporting them at all.

In an attempt to catch the public’s eye today, CNN chose to sensationalize the Texas shooting by emphasizing one main aspect.

The headline reads:

screen-shot-2016-09-08-at-10-03-32-pmWhen I first read this headline, one word leaped off the screen: “girl.” “Girl shooter?” I thought to myself. Since when do we identify shooters by their gender in headlines?

Other headlines rarely have the shooter’s gender.

For example, this Jul. 9, 2016 CNN headline reads, “Dallas sniper attack: 5 officers killed, suspect identified.” There is no gender stated.

A Jul. 25, 2016 CNN headline reads, “Fort Myers shooting: 2 dead outside teen party at club.” There is no gender stated.

Even the word “gunman” is ambiguous without clarification. For example, in a Dec. 5, 2015 CNN broadcast, the reporter referred to the shooter as “the female gunman,” to clarify her gender.

In a country where hundreds of shootings happen every year, it is easy for citizens to read the headlines monotonously. But, this shouldn’t be the case. A shooting should get someone’s attention not because the shooter is a female, but because the shooting happened at all.

Today’s headline should have been just as devastating and shocking without the word “girl” in it.