In the aftermath of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, apparently the only thing we can say for certain is that 19 children and two teachers were killed. And the media coverage of the shooting has not been a shining example of journalistic reporting.
I have a copy of the BBC home page for the evening of the shooting. Ok, I’ll concede the numbers were still in flux. But on the home page, in three separate headlines, one right under the other were these three reports: “18 children killed,” “15 dead in shooting,” and “school shooting leaves 21 dead.”
Of course, in any evolving situation it is going to be difficult to track down solid, reliable information. But I have to ask, was anyone at the vaunted BBC proofreading their web page?
Then there was the press conference with Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw.
Following his remarks, he began to take questions, and total chaos erupted as what sounded like hundreds of reporters all tried to shout questions at the same time.
OK, I know how these press conference questions work, but I really have to wonder if every reporter yelling a question expected their particular question to be answered.
Every time I see one of these things I have to wonder what the public thinks when they see reporters yelling and screaming so that no one can be heard? I bet such scenes do nothing to enhance the respect and understanding of the news business.
Then there are the competing headlines, which make it look as if there are two completely different stories being reported.
CNN, for example, has been headlining and focusing on finding fault with police response to the tragedy.
Fox News, on the other hand, focuses on issues other than gun control: mental health and family dynamics.
Traditional journalism is supposed to focus on the facts, and commentary is supposed to be labeled as such. Unfortunately, true journalism seems to have fallen by the wayside.
I’m Larry Burriss.
Larry Burriss, professor of journalism, teaches introductory and media law courses. At the graduate level he teaches quantitative research methods and media law.
He holds degrees from The Ohio State University (B.A. in broadcast journalism, M.A. in journalism), the University of Oklahoma (M.A. in human relations), Ohio University (Ph.D. in journalism) and Concord Law School (J.D.). He has worked in print and broadcast news and public relations, and has published extensively in both academic a…