Police shooting coverage incomplete


The Texas police shooting of Botham Jean last Thursday appeared on news sites across the country. The same basic facts are being reiterated: police officer Amber Guyger’s affidavit, the lawyers’ of the victim’s  family disputing some of the facts in it (namely that the door was ajar), and other general information. The stories take on the expected inverted pyramid structure, but some articles on the news issue exclude key information  that adds to the full portrait of available knowledge.

This begins with the exclusion of the initial search warrant for Guyger’s arrest and how it contradicts the arrest warrant that follows. The arrest warrant supports Guyger’s affidavit, while the search warrant supports the Jeans’ lawyers. Early in the coverage, NBC affiliates reported that a anonymous police source offered information supporting the lawyers’ claims that the door was not ajar, but eventually took it down due to this information contradicting the arrest warrant. That being true, a recognition of the altered information as opposed to not including the original information paints a more complete picture of the news.

This article took on a unique angle, focusing on the mystery witnesses that claim Jean confronted Guyger at the door and they heard yelling the night of his shooting. The interviewing of uninvolved expert lawyers added a more objective view of the case, unlike other articles that only included the words of the family lawyers and other people who had direct ties to the case.

One of these family lawyers is Benjamin Crump, who represented the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and other black men who were shot. This tidbit of information was not mentioned in many of the articles I read, even though he was quoted in some.  Most people would recognize the cases he has represented, but not his name, so I find it important to specify who he is

Homeless hero gets his funds


Many have been following the story of Johnny Bobbit Jr., a homeless ex-Marine that saved a stranded girl by giving her his last $20 for gas last October. Soon after the encounter, the girl, Kate McClure, started a GoFundMe Campaign— “Paying it Forward”— in order to raise money for Bobbit as a thank you gesture. The campaign went viral.

Within a few months, more than 10,000 people had donated to the campaign and raised more than $400,000 for Bobbit. It seemed as though the story had come to a happy end. However, as the money came funneling in, problems began to arise between McClure, her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, and Bobbit.

“The money has been in dispute, and Bobbitt is suing the couple, accusing them of fraud. Bobbitt’s attorney says his client has only seen about $75,000 of that money and should have gotten about $300,000 more after GoFundMe’s fees,” CNN reported.

The couple refused to give Bobbit his campaign donations, claiming it was because of his drug addiction— feeling he would spend it all recklessly. Bobbitt and his lawyer disputed this and claimed the couple was using the money for their own necessities.

After a legal battle, the couple is now being ordered to hand over the money to Bobbit and a search warrant has been issued for their home to see what and how the money they received was handled. The mass amounts of news media attention on social media and the news surrounding Bobbit’s story contributed to his recovery of his deserved money quickly and smoothly.

Bobbit plans to use his new found fortune to find a place to live, pay rent and other necessities. He also plans to participate in a rehabilitation program in order to target his drug addiction problem.

McMurphy’s reporting raises concern


Over the summer, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State football program found themselves under immense scrutiny for their handling of former coach Zach Smiths domestic violence accusations that led to his delayed departure. Although the scrutiny was well warranted and fair, the reporting done that broke this story leaves a lot to be desired from a journalistic perspective.

Former ESPN reporter, Brett McMurphy, was the first person to break the story surrounding Zach Smith that sparked both Meyer’s suspension and the suspension of Ohio State’s athletic director, Gene Smith. Although this was certainly the most important story of his career, the reporting that went into breaking this story was questionable.

When Brett McMurphy was laid off from ESPN, he lost his platform to report stories. Like many other reporters who have been let go from their publications, Brett McMurphy took to posting his stories on Facebook to inform his followers about what was going on in the college football world. Evidently, this is where Brett McMurphy posted this bombshell story that quickly attracted attention.

In order to understand the reason as to why the reporting was suspect, one must understand what was initially reported and why the story was such a big deal. Brett McMurphy reported that Zach Smith was arrested in 2015 with a charge of domestic violence toward his former wife. This led people to believe that Urban Meyer was aware of that arrest and did nothing about it. The problem with reporting that Zach Smith was arrested is a pretty big one: Zach Smith was never arrested.

Reporters make mistakes all the time, it’s just something that happens in the industry. The problem with this mistake is that it was the basis of the entire story. If Zach Smith was never arrested, Urban Meyer would have never heard about the allegation and thus would have no reason to enforce any sort of action. If he was arrested, Urban Meyer would have probably been fired earlier this month, instead of getting suspended, because employing someone who has been arrested for domestic violence is grossly irresponsible is wrong.

The biggest problem with the reporting was how Brett McMurphy “fixed” his mistake. Brett McMurphy didn’t post anywhere that he made a mistake that changed his initial bombshell story. Of course he didn’t, because if he admitted this mistake then his story would significantly diminish in importance. Brett McMurphy simply went onto his Facebook post, edited the story to reflect that Zach Smith was never arrested, and went on with his day. Thankfully, people picked up on the fact that McMurphy edited his post without saying anything.

Instead of following journalistic procedures and properly updating his story, Brett McMurphy took a side and wanted to stay as relevant as possible in his moment of fame. In doing so, McMurphy changed the entire narrative surrounding the Ohio State football program based off a report that was simply untrue.

Kardashian continues justice crusade


Reality television star Kim Kardashian West is known for many things. The model, TV personality and entrepreneur can now add “advocate for criminal justice reform” to her long list of accolades.

In June, Kardashian West paid a visit to the White House, where she spoke with President  Trump on behalf of Alice Marie Johnson, who was serving a life sentence in prison for drug possession. Through her efforts, Kardashian West was able to convince Trump to reduce Johnson’s prison time.

While this was certainly a great accomplishment for Kardashian West, her work was not yet done. According to CNN, Kardashian West arrived at the White House once again on Wednesday morning to attend a session on clemency and prison reform with White House officials, including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.

This time, she also advocated for a man named Chris Young. During an appearance on the podcast, “Wrongful Conviction,” Kardashian West revealed that Young was sentenced to life in prison on drug possession charges in 2010. He already had two prior convictions for drug possession, which resulted in a third strike, and ultimately led to a life sentence.

“Yesterday, I had a call with a gentleman that’s in prison for a drug case — got life. It’s so unfair. He’s 30 years old; he’s been in for almost 10 years,” Kardashian West told the podcast.

At the session, Kardashian West took to Twitter, where she shared photos with the caption, “It started with Ms. Alice, but looking at her and seeing the faces and learning the stories of the men and women I’ve met inside prisons I knew I couldn’t stop at just one. It’s time for REAL systemic change.”

I, along with many others, applaud Kardashian West for standing up for her beliefs and using her celebrity status to help others. Major news outlets covering the story ranging from Fox News to Rolling Stone to People magazine have been supportive of her efforts, as well.

Noticeably quiet about Kardashian West’s latest White House visit was the New York Post, which infamously mocked the star, calling her “Kim Thong Un” and referred to her first meeting with Trump as “The Other Big Ass Summit.” Although many love to mock her, Kardashian West received an outpouring of support from other reporters and media outlets, condemning The Post for its insensitive comments.

Perhaps the response surrounding Kardashian West’s work has been more positive this time around is because we can see it was not just a one-time publicity stunt. It is clear that she is passionate about this issue and is determined to make a difference. I look forward to hearing more about her future endeavors in criminal justice reform.

Mass shooters seek media coverage


Today, an article published by Vox caught my eye. The headline was The Trenton, New Jersey, mass shooting isn’t getting much national attention. After reading the article, I asked myself, do mass shootings even need to be getting attention more attention than they already are?

Mass shootings, although tragic and heartbreaking, are seen as gold (in terms of content) for news media outlets. It is their gateway to all subjects controversial— gun control, mental health, and so forth. This is an outlet’s chance to use a national event to lure readers and viewers in-a chance to inform the public.

Yes- it is the news media’s role to cover all things newsworthy, but journalists don’t always understand the repercussions that come with this task.

Readers seek detail and that’s what journalists want to provide because, if not, then they’ll lack an audience. But sometimes, that depth can be seen as invasive and counter-productive.

When I say invasive, I speak for those whose parents are forced to mourn their lost child, or whose brother must suffer the loss of a sister.

But when I speak of counter-productivity, it is that very detailed reporting that enhances the recurring mass shootings our country faces.

In a way, the extensive coverage of mass shootings brings fame and recognition to the perpetrator. Presenting these shooters’ names in headlines, publishing their photos and sharing information about their personal lives is almost commemorating them for their actions. These people don’t deserve to be talked about but the coverage creates popularity by exposing them as a household name.

For this type of  event, I believe news reports should keep the victims, their families and the perpetrators anonymous. It is important for the people of our country to know what is happening and where but anonymity could help others who want the same attention from following the same footsteps.

When you give that person (in this case the shooter) attention, you are feeding into their desperate need to be known and talked about.

An example I can think of is the uni-bomber (which I will not name) in the 1980s. After the FBI printed his manuscripts, which contained his thoughts and ideas, there were many who agreed with his views and created a fan base. With the Columbine shooting, many outcasts also praised the shooters and created a cult known as The Columbiners.

These people should not be recognized for the mere issue that attention leads to popularity, and popularity leads to a following. Unfortunately, the news media know the more they give, the more people will listen and read. Censorship of any kind is difficult for journalists especially when they are committed to reporting the full truth— but at what expense are they doing so?

Arizona man kept Utah teen as ‘pet’


A man accused of kidnapping a teen girl from St. George, Utah, and taking her to his home in Arizona where he allegedly forced her to be his “pet” has been charged with human trafficking.

Raymond Burk, 38, who already faces charges in Arizona, was charged Monday with human trafficking of a child and aggravated kidnapping. These are both first degree felonies.

This 17-year-old girl in June 2016 posted messages on the internet stating she wanted someone to pick her up due to being depressed. Burk replied to the girl claiming he lived somewhere else and would come pick her up so she could stay for two days with him.

The girl told Burk she was 18 when in reality she was 17. After about 45 minutes traveling with Burk the girl became concerned.

Burk then told the girl “he was going to keep her as his pet indefinitely,” according to court documents.

For more than a week in Phoenix, he sexually abused the girl. Burk hit the girl when she said she was going to call her dad.

Burk was arrested in Arizona for investigation of five counts of sexual conduct with a minor, one count of aggravated assault and one count of kidnapping.

If it weren’t for the girl secretly finding a phone and calling the police she would probably still be there.

This story was reported in a very informative manner. It was honest and very detailed, it included details on the physical abuse the girl suffered.

Cosby begins retrial for sexual assault


Bill Cosby, the comic legend and “America’s Dad,” begins his retrial on sexual assault charges today, Monday, April 2 in Norristown, Pa.

Cosby’s first trial ended with a mistrial on the charges of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand, former director of operations for Temple University women’s basketball team. After the mistrial on June 17, District Attorney Kevin Steele announced that he would, without a doubt, retry Cosby.

In the first trial, Judge Steve T. O’Neill only allowed one accuser to testify– Andrea Constand. This was just one of the many women who came forward. However, in the second trial, the judge will allow up to five previous accusers to testify. This will increase the likeliness that Cosby will be guilty.

According to The Washington Post, there is a legal term called “Doctrine of Chances” that basically says the more times someone is accused of the same type of crime under the same circumstances, the less likely they were innocently involved in those situations.

Jury selection begins today for the process of picking 12 jurors to partake in this trial. During the first trial, after more than 52 hours of jury discussion for more than six days, Judge O’Neill declared a mistrial.

More than 60 women confirmed they were drugged and molested by Cosby. According to CNN, Cosby admitted he bought the now banned sedative, Quaaludes, to give to women he wanted to have sex with. Almost a year ago, Cosby confirmed in court documents that, “I meet Ms. [name redacted] in Las Vegas, and she met me backstage. I give her Quaaludes. We then have sex.”

We will soon see what the verdict will be for the second trial.

This story is covered on almost every small and large news station, from CNN and The Washington Post to People and WGAL-TV.

Stephon Clark shooting sparks outrage


The March 18, 2018, police shooting of unarmed Stephon Clark has sparked outrage throughout Sacramento, Calif.

Earlier this month, a 22-year-old black man, Stephon Clark, was shot and killed by two Sacramento police officers in his grandmother’s lawn. The officers approached Clark regarding a call about breaking car windows. They proceeded to shoot him with no less than 20 bullets, killing him at the scene, according to The Washington Post. The police claim they thought Clark had a gun, only a cell phone was found at the scene. A video capturing the incident can be viewed on CNN.com.

The shooting has since sparked protest, demonstrations and calls for prosecution of the officers responsible. In a meeting on Tuesday set to discuss the incident, residents packed Sacramento City Hall. The meeting lasted 2.5 hours, as it was continually interrupted by chants and emotional demonstrations of outrage. In a CNN.com video, Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark, can be seen standing on the information desk and beginning a chant of “Stephon Clark,” during the meeting.

In a now viral demonstration, activist Berry Accius held up his cell phone in similar fashion to Clark, encouraging the council meeting attendees to do the same. He demanded of Mayor Darrell Steinberg, “Does this look like a gun?”

Body camera footage shows the officer’s yelling “gun,” in response to their allegedly thinking Clark held a gun, though footage shows that the officers failed to declare themselves as police before firing 10 lethal shots each at Clark. According to The Washington Post, more than five minutes passed before police called for medical attention, allowing Clark to die on the scene.

The California Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it will oversee a police investigation into the shooting, while Steinberg stated, “A 22-year-old man should not have died that way,” according to The Washington Post.

News media are still trying to piece together the details of the incident, releasing updated content as promptly as new details come to light. As the case progresses, news media attention shifts to the suspicious delay in calling for medical attention. On a national level, it brings the Black Lives Matter movement back to the media forefront.

Boss of Nasser failed to protect patients


The arrest and conviction of Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics doctor who abused more than 200 women over his career, is one of the largest sex abuse scandals in U.S. history.

William Stampel (Staff photo, Michigan State University).

Now, his boss is under fire.

William Strampel was dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and oversaw the clinic where Nassar worked.

He failed to enforce proper examination room regulations he set in place following an accusation against Nassar in 2014, which required doctors to have a chaperone present whenever they examined “sensitive” body areas.

This allowed Nassar to continue to abuse his patients. Even in the midst of the sexual abuse investigation in 2014 Stampel allowed him to return to work and did not inform the rest of the Osteopathic Medicine Department of his new regulations. He stated in 2017 he did not feel the need to check to see if Nassar was following these new rules because he felt he had been “exonerated” by a investigation by the university and the police.

Strampel’s work computer contained more than 50 photos of female genitalia, nude women, sex toys and pornography, as well as an extensive collection of female “selfies” of MSU students, most likely pulled from social media.

Most worryingly, there was also saved video of Nassar “performing a ‘treatment’ on a young female patient. Forsyth, who was hired by Michigan’s attorney general to investigate the university, would not discuss the photos on the computer or how Stampel may have come in possession of them.

Outside of Nassar connections, Stampel has also been repeatedly accused of sexual assault by young women around MSU.

I am always skeptical when it comes to new coverage of sexual assault and its victims. If the news media aren’t implying blame on the victims, they are often sensationalizing the stories and jumping the gun on accusations.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by this story’s coverage as well, by extension, the coverage of the Nassar case. The news media were mindful when discussing Nassar’s victims and even seems to hold the 200 testimonies against him in high regard. These articles were no different.

There was very little wild speculation over who was a victim and rather drew the lines that prosecutors and investigators had within their statements. They mirror Nassar’s actions against Stampel’s work as dean to create a timeline and connect events. Even articles with pointed tones still lay out the facts and list the defense’s claims, even if it would be easy to immediately condemn him in the wake of Nassar.

SXSW bomb threat halts concert


On March 16, a bomb threat at the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas, resulted in the cancellation of a performance by The Roots.

The event, sponsored by Bud Light, was cancelled at 4:30 p.m. via Twitter, following a bomb threat that had been sent through email to the Live Nation Music event promotion company. Bud Light tweeted, “your safety and the safety of all fans at SXSW is our most important priority.”

Twitter effectively helped to cancel the show and publicize news of the bomb threat. Bud Light representatives took to twitter to say that as information is made available, it will be posted on Twitter. Austin police arrested 26-year-old Trevor Weldon Ingram as the main suspect of the threat. Ingram was charged for making a terroristic threat – a third-degree felony in the United States.

Before the arrest, police were already scared of ongoing bombings in Austin. The threat came a few days after homemade bombs exploded in the city, resulting in two fatalities and three injuries. Two packages exploded at Austin homes on March 12 and March 2.

Statement issued by the Austin local government regarding the bomb threat via Twitter.

According to neighbors, the packages were so powerful that windows and walls of houses blocks away shook when the bombs went off. The explosive devices inside the packages were detonated when the residents picked them up.

According to The New York Times, Austin civilians have been warned to call 911 in the case of receiving any suspicious packages. Since the warning, the phone lines at the police station have been consistently busy with news of suspicious packages.

Police have not ruled out the incidents as being hate crimes, as the two victims of the bombings were African-Americans whose families were very involved in the community.

The bomb threat at SXSW targeted The Roots concert – a primarily African-American hip hop group. The Roots were supposed to be performing alongside several other musicians including Ludacris, Rapsody and Tank and the Bangas, who are also African-American performers.

The Roots drummer, Questlove, addressed the cancellation as the result of a “severe emergency”.

ESPN ASU report could be flawed


While few people were taking the NCAA’s side after the results of the recent FBI probe were released, many could agree on one point; Arizona paying $100,000 to five-star phenom Deandre Ayton to attend the university was certainly crossing a line.

However, new reports are surfacing that lead many to believe that ESPN could have inaccurately reported the details of a wiretapped phone call involving Arizona’s head coach Sean Miller.

ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach originally reported that Arizona’s head basketball coach was overheard talking to Christian Dawkins on an FBI wiretap about a $100,000 payment for Deandre Ayton. This sent the news media and fans into a buzz, as paying six digits for an athlete was unheard of before the report.

The news could result in Ayton losing eligibility, along with Miller losing his job as Arizona’s head coach.

While this was shocking at first, a major hole in the story was evident. According to McCann, “relevant FBI wiretaps in the investigation did not begin until 2017—months after five-star recruit Deandre Ayton had already committed to Arizona in Sept. 2016.”

So, why would Arizona be attempting to pay a player to come to their school when he had already made the decision to do so? 247Sports first reported that the wiretapped calls referenced by ESPN were made between June 19 and Sept. 25 of last year, and not during Ayton’s recruitment.

Along with this fairly new information pointing out the flaws in ESPN’s report, why wouldn’t the FBI have indicted Miller if it had a tape of him speaking with Dawkins? It doesn’t line up.

“I have never discussed with Christian Dawkins paying Deandre Ayton to attend the University of Arizona,” said Miller. “In fact, I never even met or spoke to Christian Dawkins until after Deandre publicly announced that he was coming to our school. Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false and defamatory.”

After dropping such a bombshell on College Basketball, it seems like the corruption case is becoming weaker and weaker as time goes on. Not only did the NCAA not have much support from its fans and former players, but now it appears as if its reported information doesn’t even line up with the claims. It will be interesting to see how this ongoing story concludes in the coming months.

Parkland continues to dominate news


More than a week later, the mass shooting that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas Senior High in Parkland, Fla., continues to be the biggest talking point for most news organizations.

A quick visit to CNN or The New York Time’s websites will reflect this, as the stories closest to the top of the page and in the biggest fonts are related to Parkland. Even stories about the Winter Olympics or new developments from the Mueller probe into the Russia investigation, stories that at any other point in time would eat up most of the space on the homepage of any news organization, have not been garnering the same attention as any of the stories related to the Parkland shooting.

This is a typical occurrence with mass shootings. Tragedies such as these come as shocks to the community and to the country as a whole and we find ourselves unable to turn away our attention from the aftermath. Writing and profiles of victims and survivors become a means of paying respect to them.

Another aspect of mass shootings that keeps them in the news is the political debate over gun control and mental health that always follows. Some recent examples of this are the stories on the chief of the NRA attacking Democrats about their gun control stance and Trump’s suggestion that we let teachers be armed and incentivize them to carry guns with a bonus. Many marches and demonstrations have happened, and more are being planned, each one garnering coverage.

Details continue to emerge about the shooting, consistently reigniting interest in the story and leading to more stories. For example, a recent look at the police response found that an armed school resource deputy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School never went into the building where the killer was, drawing intense criticism. The deputy has since been suspended following an internal investigation.

Florida House declines ban on AR-15


The AR-15 is the most popular weapon used in mass shootings in America today. The rifle was used in the most recent shooting in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 people. Before this incident, the rifle was used in the Sutherland Springs, Texas, a music festival in Las Vegas, and the Orlando nightclub. These mass shootings have only happened in the past year, killing more than 150 people.

After last weeks shooting in Parkland, survivors went to Florida’s capital to take action against the gun laws in Florida. According to CNN, the Florida Statehouse rejected the ban on semiautomatic guns. However, they declared that “porn is now an official public health risk but not the use of rifles,” said Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith from Orlando.

Why is the AR-15 so popular? The National Rifle Association said that the AR-15 is “popular because it’s customizable, adaptable, reliable and accurate.” People believe that the AR-15 has gotten a bad rap for the number of times it shows up in the news for mass shootings when in reality it was made for “sports shooting and hunting,” says the NRA.

The subject of AR-15 weapons is covered very well because it is a controversial topic of discussion. It was covered on almost all websites including, CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and others. They cover the basics of the AR-15 rifle and how it has been used in almost all mass shootings. There should be more coverage of the decision-making process among Florida officials to ban AR-15 rifles.

Could gun violence be curbed by banks?


In a New York Times Dealbook article in the Business & Policy section by Andrew Ross Sorkin, Sorkin suggested that banks such as JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and Bank of America should ban the purchase of certain firearms using their credit cards companies in order to curtail gun violence in America.

Sorkin effectively discussed the position that many CEOs and high level executives of banks feel that they should take towards moral and social issues. He claims that they feel a “sense of moral responsibility … to confront social challenges when Washington won’t.”

Truthfully, following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people on Valentine’s Day, the sales of assault weapons has not yet been limited by lawmakers in Washington, but according to Sorkin there is a “real opportunity for the business community to fill the void and prove that all the talk about moral responsibility isn’t hollow”.

An AR-15: the automatic assault weapon responsible for the most amount of deadly shootings in America

Sorkin suggests that these credit card processing banks should add restrictions in their Terms of Service in which they start by restricting the purchase of assault rifles and bump stocks, the mechanism that makes rifles fire faster.

There is even a precedent for banning the usage of credit cards for certain purchases, so the banks would not be doing something extremely outlandish. In the past month, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America have set restrictions to ban the usage of their credit cards to purchase Bitcoin – a completely legal worldwide payment system.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase said that he and his bank “have a moral obligation but also a deeply vested interest [in helping] solve pressing societal issues,” according to Sorkin.

Sorkin’s quoting of high level executives reveals their deeper interest behind solving issues like gun violence, which Sorkin believes could be easily curtailed by simply restricting what could be purchased on bank-issued credit cards.

Most people will not pay for an assault weapon in cash or they will have a harder time figuring out how to pay for it or why they should pay for it when their bank condemns it.

Sorkin includes an important detail in his editorial to show a problem in restricting gun control in this country. He writes that, after 72 hours of phone calls to high level people, nobody wanted to discuss his idea on the record or even at all.

Nobody wants to talk about a world where the purchase of assault weapons would be untraceable – only in cash. But, an America where assault rifles could not be purchased using credit cards would make purchasing them more difficult and would raise national recognition of the level of danger of these guns. According to Sorkin, it would be a great start for a country that has had more than 18 school shootings in just one month.

The school shooting epidemic


When the Sandy Hook Massacre occurred, I froze in disbelief. It was one of those moments where “you remember exactly where you were.” I was 13 years old at the time and in eighth grade and, boy, was I scared to go back to school the next day. I kept on asking myself, is school safe?

My answer every time was yes, because I grew up in a affluent town with good people, crime was extremely low. I kept on obsessing about the massacre and thinking of all those young kids in that small, thought-to-be safe town, and started to realize that maybe no school is safe. I thought that after Sandy Hook, something of this magnitude would never happen at a school ever again.

Just two days ago, a 19-year-old gunman with mental health issues took his loaded AR-15 style rifle and shot more than 30 people, killing 17 of them. Families were shattered, people were left lying on the classroom floor in cold blood, and America now reels from another school shooting. This shooting wasn’t like any other shooting and it hit close to home for me.

This one was different because it seemed so preventable. The school was an excellent, “A” grade school. The community was dubbed “the safest city in Florida.” How could something at this magnitude happen again, in a community of this type? In all honesty, I don’t have any answers to this question because, clearly, a shooting like this can happen anywhere. A mass shooting could occur on the bustling Las Vegas Strip, in the wooded hills of Connecticut, or in the densely populated suburbs of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

What can we the public do about this? How can we make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again? Will more people continue to support the NRA and Second Amendment rights?

These are the questions that have been running through millions of American minds this past week and action needs to be taken. Nothing has effectively been done to prevent school shootings and it has become an epidemic. Rallies need to be held, celebrities need to speak out, and Congress needs to agree on rules.

This is no longer a Republican versus Democrat issue, rather, it’s a humanity issue. It’s time Americans band together for mankind and human safety.

Nikolas Cruz: What we now know


On Feb. 14, 2018, a mass shooting took place in Parkland, Fla., at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

A 19-year-old by the name of Nikolas Cruz was accused, after bringing a rifle to school, of killing 17 people and injuring even more. After students and neighbors traded stories of their experiences with him, the puzzle pieces came together.

Cruz had recently been expelled and the stories about him fell within the bands of typical teenage mischief making. He was taken into custody shortly after the massacre and was accused of 17 counts of premeditated murder.

The authorities released the names of all the victims on Thursday. These individuals were teachers and students, the kinds of people who bring a school to life.

The mother of one of these victims said she had a message for President Trump.

“President Trump, we need action, we need change, get these guns out of the hands of these young kids and get these guns off the streets,” said Alyssa Alhadeff.

The president who generally opposes new gun restrictions ahs focused on mental illness during mass shootings and did so again on Thursday on his Twitter account.

“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again,” Trump said.

Cruz had no criminal history before the shootings according to the state law enforcement records but his childhood was certainly troubled.

His father passed away in 2004 while his mother recently passed away in November.

“He had emotional problems and I believe he was diagnosed with autism. He had trouble controlling his temper. He broke things. He would do that sometimes at our house when he lost his temper. But he was always very apologetic afterwards,” stated Paul Gold, Cruz’s neighbor.

In the end, all of this is no excuse for what he has done and the city of Parkland is now trying to heal.

This story included lots of detail in order for the reader to get more of an idea as to why something like this happened. It was covered in a very raw and honest manner not sugar coding. Overall, I think it was very well reported.

Mass shootings lead to difficult choices


On Feb. 14, a gunman entered Broward County’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and started shooting. There were 17 fatalities, making it one of the top 10 deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.

The gunman, identified as 19-year-old expelled student Nikolas Cruz, used an AR-15, the weapon of choice for many mass shooters. His motives are still unknown. He confessed in court to the shooting.

Much of the early information around this shooting came from social media posts by students trapped inside the school. Students barricaded in classrooms would tweet out safety updates or videos of the chaos. This ability to get live updates from inside a situation was unthinkable just a few years ago and allows for reporters and the rest of the outside world to have more information sooner.

However, there are many possible problems over reporting from these social media posts.

One possible problem is in regards to fact-checking. Much of what a student tweets could potentially be based off of incorrect assumptions or limited knowledge of the situation. In a situation such as this shooting, a news reporter needs to take extra care to not cause panic by disseminating false information, especially since social media allows for that false information to make its way back to other students in the same situation.

There is also the question of whether news media coverage is over-exposing people to violence.

Since the Parkland shooting, many people have questioned how necessary it is to see every dead body and puddle of blood. Some worry that it’s a violation of privacy and an act of disrespect to victims and their families. Many psychologists raise concerns that over-exposure to graphic images could worsen cases of acute stress disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. There is also concern over people becoming desensitized to horrific violence.

However journalists decide to handle the inclusion of social media posts and graphic images in their reporting of mass shootings, I feel that the most important thing is to balance the need for truth and facts with respect for the tragedy.

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.

Young boy in Texas still not identified


In Galveston, Texas, the violent crime rate is on the lower charts of crimes compared to other cities like Houston. Violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. On Oct. 22, 2017, police came across a young boy’s body who they found washed up on a beach. They are now urging anybody who recognizes the young boy to step forward.

The children between ages of three and five years old, was discovered naked and already decomposing. Josh Schirad, captain of the Galveston Police Department, said “somebody knows this kid. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, day care provider, teacher, next door neighbor, guy at the grocery store that’s seen this kid come in. Somebody somewhere here has seen this child.”

Unfortunately for the police department, no one has come forward to identify the boy.

Det. Jeff Banks said in a statement “The child’s body appeared to have been in the water between 12 to 48 hours.” Usually children do not have finger prints on file, making it difficult to identify them. The evidence collected at the scene was limited.

The FBI joined the Galveston police department in search of the identification of the boy, however, two months after the boy’s body was located, in a joint press release, Ed Michel, Assistant Special Agent in charge of the FBI Houston field office, said, “It’s heartbreaking that no one has come forward to identify this boy or offer any clues as to what happened to him.”

For the first time in Galveston history, police are now uploading a photo of the deceased boy after releasing a sketch and not having any leads. The boy is described to be possibly Hispanic, brown eyes and hair, and about three feet tall. In order to make the picture appropriate for the public, a few minor decomposition and cuts were cleaned up.

In hopes to pursue anyone who may have had contact with the young boy, the FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for the location of the family members caring for this boy at the time of his disappearance.

Real lost and found played on ‘Bachelor’


According to CNN, a woman previously classified as “missing” has now been found on ABC’s reality dating television show, “The Bachelor.”

CNN’s classification as “missing” deviates from the true nature of Rebekah Martinez’s status of personhood.

Rebekah Martinez, 22, was marked “missing” by her mother on Nov. 18. Martinez’s mother told local authorities in Humboldt County, Calif., that Martinez was leaving the area to pursue work on a marijuana farm. This type of missing persons report sounds more like a notification of her leaving the area rather than her being unequivocally missing.

The North Coast Journal released an article on Feb. 1 on Facebook titled “The Humboldt 35: Why does Humboldt County have the highest rate of missing persons reports in the state?” showing 35 pictures of people who have been listed as missing in the county to see if any of them could be identified. The same day, Facebook user Amy Bonner O’Brien identified Rebekah Martinez from the recently aired season 22 of “The Bachelor.”

During the time when Martinez was so-called “missing,” she was actually filming for the show, according to ABC spokeswoman Courtney Kugel. Every report of the scenario seems to overlook the fact that Martinez was not missing, but merely at an undisclosed location for filming. Regardless of the fact that Martinez did not tell her mother where she was actually going, she did tell her that she was going to a farm where she would be out of communication.

Season 22 ‘The Bachelor’ contestant Rebekah Martinez as both a TV personality and a missing person.

After confirmation by the Humboldt County sheriff’s department that Rebakah Martinez of Humboldt county was actually “Bekah M” from “The Bachelor,” Martinez took to Twitter to say “MOM. how many times do I have to tell you I don’t get cell service on The Bachelor??”

Martinez insinuated through the sarcastic tweet that she had told her mother before that she would be out of reach for several months.

News sources neglected to shame authorities for doing insufficient research, as Martinez tweeted on Jan. 16 that did not have her phone at the filming site, over 10 days before the North Coast Journal article was published with her face listed as a “missing person.”

With the California authorities aware of her name and face, it is astounding that they were unable to identify Rebekah Martinez as who she was before a viewer of “The Bachelor” did so on Facebook.