The Complexity of Today's Shooting of Two Journalists

Early this morning, while broadcasting live on WDBJ7, reporter Alison Parker, 24, and photographer Adam Ward, 27, were murdered. They were shot at close range by a former WDBJ7 employee.

There's not only footage of the live broadcast, but the shooter himself took footage and shared it on the web. I've shared a link to the first video via Twitter, but have decided not to share the second video. Some feel neither video should be shared or viewed. Others feel both videos are part of this news story and fair game for public consumption. This is merely one complexity amidst many with a tragedy of this nature in this day and age.

When the name of the shooter was revealed, some felt his name shouldn't be written or spoken. He wanted fame, but all attention should be given to the victims. After all, he might get off on the infamy. I respect this argument, but still decided to share his name and picture on Twitter.

Then, there's the hot button issue of gun control. Shootings of this nature happen often in the United States, they just don't typically happen on live television. Gun control is a very serious issue, but is it one that overshadows the even more serious mental health crisis? In my humble opinion, yes. I Tweeted a screen capture of the shooter's Twitter feed, and it's clearly a mentally ill individual. Gun control is important, but mental health is often the root of violent crimes of this nature, and the mental health crisis seems grossly overlooked.

Then there's the 23-page manifesto faxed by the gunman to ABC News. Should that be shared? Should it be suppressed? Is it a legitimate part of this developing news story or a soapbox this double murderer should be deprived of?

And what about race? Was the story covered differently when the suspect was assumed to be white? What of the fact the shooter's manifesto named the recent Charleston church shooting as motivation for his actions?

Mental health, race relations, gun control... all accelerated by the immediacy of social media. It's all so very sad, and so very complex. And in 2015, everything happens lightning quick in the public sphere.


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Comments (7 - click here to join in!)

Argie

Well stated, Mike.

August 26, 2015 @ 2:26 PM

m m

It is a mix of all these. A good book about it from 10 years ago was written about it, by Mark Ames. There are also economic factors involved. Job loss without prospect of another job or any positive outlook on the future causes a lot of stress, anger and a whole list of negative emotions and mental issues. Then add guns for the potent mix.
That said, there won't be anything more than the same tired talking points resulting from this. E.g. it's not the time to talk about this, 2A, etc.

August 26, 2015 @ 3:40 PM

dale

I watched the gunman's video & totally horrifying. I'm surprised still available.
Was watching the Jays highlights on TSN before 7AM this morning when a flash came across about 2 people shot on air in Virginia.
Mental illness is a problem & when people take revenge in this manner it's depression or another form of mental illness.

Apparently he bought the gun at a Walmart in Virginia just after the Charleston Church shootings. I've been to Virginia in the past & some stores advertise Guns, Ammo & Beer as their attraction.

Such a Loss of life.

August 26, 2015 @ 6:54 PM

McNulty

You're right it is a complex issue. I just don't think one issue should outweigh another. Mental health issues are a big concern. I also think that buying a gun at Wal-Mart is just as abhorrent. One can be legislated. The other requires funding, understanding and a constant discussions.

I have not seen the videos and I will not watch them. This is one of those situations where the family of the deceased should be the ones choosing if they are news worthy and should be accessible.

August 26, 2015 @ 8:34 PM

Tron

What do you guys think of the controversy of the front page of the NY Daily News

It's pretty much three stills of the shooting.

A lot of people are freaking out saying it's in bad taste.

I don't really know what to think. I get the shocking aspect of seeing it in the front page. But it might be also be a way to open people eyes of the ugliness that can happen with guns. Maybe a picture of the consequences mean more (and make it more real) than just "thoughts and prayers" and describing what happened. Kind of like showing the coffins coming back from War. Just giving out numbers and stats isn't as jarring as seeing rows of caskets.

August 27, 2015 @ 4:16 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Tron

I saw the cover. I thought it was fine. It's a news story, and that's the brutal truth.

August 27, 2015 @ 4:21 PM

Ben V

Unfortunately the whole guns don't kill people, people kill people argument is absolute horse @#$@.

Yes there is a mental illness problem in the states. However the ability to truly address all mental illness' in a timely and efficient manner is impossible. Many people with depression suffer in silence, those with potential psychotic breaks or bi polar disorder can go undiagnosed for years. Especially if there are minimal physical symptoms witnessed.

You don't leave a 6 year old in a candy stores by his/herself and expect them to make the right decisions. You limit when and where or even if they can have candy.


Tackle mental illness concurrently while you tackle gun issues. Unfortunately the states is doing neither. Thank the NRA and the south for that. Isn't it funny that a poor woman whom for whatever reason should not or cannot have a child gets villified for even thinking about abortion. However go to the local gun store and by a semi automatic gun and some hollow point bullets if you want. AND NOBODY BATS AN EYE!

Australia has proven gun control works to greatly reduce mass killings, suicides and homicides

But like many things when you deal with delusional people facts are ignored, because they don't like up with their opinions. Enter republicans and the NRA.

I truly enjoyed this quote from Adam Lankford who debunked the whole NRA stance on guns.

"That is not a coincidence," wrote study author Adam Lankford. "My study provides empirical evidence, based on my quantitative assessment of 171 countries, that a nation’s civilian firearm ownership rate is the strongest predictor of its number of public mass shooters."

August 27, 2015 @ 4:56 PM

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