The Media Today

The media today: On Vegas, gun coverage, and media priorities

October 24, 2017

It’s been just over three weeks since the deadliest shooting in modern US history, but coverage of Las Vegas and gun violence in America seems to have quickly faded from the national conversation. After Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, and Orlando, as well as a daily drumbeat of less publicized shootings, have we simply become inured to the violence?

CNN’s Chris Cillizza notes that the interest in bump stocks—the modification that allowed Stephen Paddock to transform his rifles to simulate automatic fire—spiked shortly after the shooting, but has since dropped to pre-Vegas levels. That fading interest has been reflected in Washington, where The Daily Beast’s Sam Stein reports “efforts to pass even scaled-down gun-control legislation have effectively stalled.

ICYMI: CNN aired a problematic gun photo a few weeks ago. All journalists can learn from the mistake.

Part of the problem with media coverage, writes The Trace’s Ben Hallman in a piece for CJR, comes from journalists lack of knowledge about guns as physical objects. Citing examples from the past few weeks, Hallman says that “when journalists get the details wrong in their reporting….gun owners tune out.

Hallman, whose nonprofit newsroom focuses on guns, also argues the national media gives mass-casualty events like Las Vegas outsized coverage: “The most pernicious challenge facing any outlet that covers gun violence, including The Trace, is one of emphasis: the blanket coverage of mass shootings, and underreporting on daily gun violence.” Though six of the 10 deadliest modern mass shootings happened during the past decade, these events actually do little to help us understand the scourge of gun violence in America. As Hallman writes, “In the seven days following the Las Vegas attack, at least 809 people were shot in the US, 247 of them fatally.”

Below, more on Las Vegas, gun coverage, and a uniquely American issue.

  • 10 Minutes. 12 Gunfire Bursts. 30 Videos.: The video team at The New York Times has an incredible multimedia re-creation of what actually happened during the attack.
  • At least 2,500 shot since Vegas: Noting that Americans overwhelmingly favor strengthening gun laws, The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia and Alex Yablon write “public sentiment is not the same as attention, and the latter seems to have faded since the carnage and terror in Las Vegas.”
  • This is the NRA: This bizarre, dystopian video from the National Rifle Association somehow makes media organizations the enemy of America’s future.
  • Visualizing gun deaths: FiveThirtyEight’s “Gun Deaths in America” series from last year is one of the best I’ve seen in addressing the issue.
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ICYMI: The problem with police body cam videos

Other notable stories

  • Marie Claire’s Rose Minutaglio talks with The New York Times’s Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey about the intense, four-month reporting process that led to their Harvey Weinstein scoop. “I’d sit with my baby girl before work every morning and say, ‘Mom is going to the office to do something really important,’” Twohey says.
  • Facebook is testing a testing a dual-feed model in which the main newsfeed is focused on updates from friends and advertisements, relegating non-promoted posts (including news organizations) to a secondary feed. The Guardian’s Alex Hern writes: “If replicated more broadly, such a change would destroy many smaller publishers, as well as larger ones with an outsized reliance on social media referrals for visitors.” (Nic Dawes notes that Facebook is already doing that to publishers in the countries where the test is happening.)
  • Mother Jones’s Andy Kroll has a deep look at Sinclair Broadcasting’s plot to take over your local news.
  • Megyn Kelly has taken plenty of criticism for her new show on NBC, but yesterday she delivered a powerful monologue about Bill O’Reilly and the Fox News workplace culture that protected him.
  • The Athletic’s cofounder Alex Mather said some things to The New York Times’s Kevin Draper. Mather later apologized.
  • Reporting that gets results: The father of a soldier killed in action received that $25,000 check that President Trump promised him three months ago. The date on the check? October 18, which is the same day The Washington Post first reported on the promise.
  • How many applications will this get? The New York Times is hiring a journalist to travel to all of its “52 places to go.”
Pete Vernon is a former CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.