While attempting to make sense of the senseless tragedy that took place in Chapel Hill yesterday, I began, like many others, to question the media’s coverage of events like this. I appreciated the Chapel Hill community for the way it used media to honor the victims, telling their stories and describing the incredibly positive impacts they had on others.
Compared to media coverage of today’s event, I find previous coverage of tragedies like this to be much less productive for our society. The Sandy Hook shootings in 2012 were followed by a whirlwind of media coverage, but the main thing I remember is a Buzzfeed article profiling the shooter, Adam Lanza. Why is it that I know Adam Lanza’s name and most of his backstory, but I cannot think of the name of a single victim of the Sandy Hook shooting?
Psychological assessments of people like Adam Lanza point out that they are attention-seeking, lonely individuals who crave recognition. Mass media coverage of the shooting at Sandy Hook made Adam Lanza famous, giving him exactly what he wanted. After seeing the media’s reaction to Sandy Hook, what’s to stop others like Adam Lanza from committing a similar act, in the hopes of getting similar attention?
I understand that discussing the shooter can bring up important issues such as mental health and gun control; however, instead of obsessing about the shooter, I argue that we should focus on the victims. Today, my peers in Chapel Hill used the media to honor Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha. I think that media on a larger scale should recognize their responsibility to glorify victims of any tragedy and make their potential known, rather than focus on the criminals.