Mass media’s magnification of school shootings and its effects

North Texas students joined a national protest last week asking for a compromise that would allow  concealed weapons to be carried on campus. The students are upset about a ban on weapons for concealed permit holders.

Here’s the thing I find interesting- according to my university’s Center for Student Academic Rights and Responsibilities under personal safety —

Students are responsible for compliance with university rules and regulations prohibiting firearms, explosives, incendiaries and weapons of any kind on the campus. Students are also responsible to abide by all health/safety rules and procedures in all academic courses and laboratories.

No guns on campus. It’s always been this way, but in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings Students for Concealed Campus formed. Their purpose is to push state legislation for the right to carry their weapon onto gun-free campus zones in the hopes of mitigating future tragedies.

So the question I pose is, “what’re they scared of?” Surely driving your car to class is far more dangerous then actually sitting there.

It is. You see, the media has a tendency to try to scare the shit out of you.

Ex #1. Fox News Facts (the media’s glorification of death)

Ex #2. The Youth Violence Project (the not so damn scary statistics)

School Shooting Statistics
It should be noted that at the time of these statistics, the Youth Violence Project didn’t include college shootings. At the time, the media didn’t widely cover college shootings and since we’ve watched the widely covered Virginia Tech shooting leaving 33 dead (2007). It should also be noted that this study only includes students who were killed, not injured.

Essentially, the students who died in 2005 had a .000000017218543% chance of dieing in a school shooting, just like every other student. Sucks huh.  

The same research and statistics can be found from different sources like here or here

How many students do you think there are in the United States? 75.5 million. Your chances are as slim as dieing in a plane crash. Okay, actually you might be more likely to die in a plane crash depending on how often you fly.  

As my media writing professor says, “It’s not news unless it’s bizarre” but bizarre things don’t happen often, which is what makes it newsworthy.

The media will use words like “rampage” and guide the reader/viewer with imagery of what victims saw. It allows you to see through the eyes of the survivor and it’s fuckin’ scary. And if building a clear image of students “crying under their desks during the crazed gunman’s rampage,” isn’t enough, they show you images like this.

Virginia Tech Image

…and they show you the scared students crying, the fear, the bloody injured, the fear, the faces of the dead, the fear, the pictures of the shooter, the fear, the memorials, the fear…the fear…the fear.

I’m intentionally not placing other examples of images because  you’ve seen them and I will not contribute further.

Fact is, it isn’t dangerous in school- it’s just being reported more and more (and creatively at that), and people are scared shitless.

The American answer is of course, guns.

My answer is information.

– Miss Information


~ by effthepress on October 27, 2007.

One Response to “Mass media’s magnification of school shootings and its effects”

  1. Thanks for information.
    many interesting things

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