Mass media =mass shooting

The relationship mass media shares with mass shooting

Cole Filer, MWHS Wildcat News Editor and Chief

On April 6th, 2019, Christopher Blakely, a 24-year-old American security guard and father of three, raised in south side Chicago with divorced parents and has a total of 15,000 followers across all social media, opened fire inside a local Omaha coffee shop, massacring 25 people and wounding four. A killstreak large enough for a MOAB bomb in Modern Warfare 3. The killer amassed multiple firearms over an extended amount of time, and even wrote a memoir stating that…

One paragraph.

One well formulated paragraph and an audience built up of impressionable drones is all it takes to inspire the next mass shooter. Which we would then be greeted to yet another, ever so lovely, paragraph, effectively repeating the cycle.

Although the story above is completely fabricated, it wouldn’t surprise me to know that for a split second somebody believed it, which is absolutely disturbing. We live in a time plagued by social media, like pigs we are fed whatever it is news outlets want to throw into our trough. However, things are not at all happy and fat. If mass shootings happening every couple months have become the new norm, then our comfortable little pig sty is about to become a graveyard; no thanks to our overseer, mass media.

As a student journalist I realize that it is the media’s job to cover important stories, such as a mass shooting. However, as a realist I also understand that those stories could never have been released without proper funding. I began to question what type of stories were to bring in the most online traffic and could only come to one conclusion. Mass shootings. I don’t believe that any news outlets intention is to directly inspire the next mass murderer, but make no mistake when I say that certain opportunistic news outlets are, if not at the very least, aware of the monetary gain that has been conveniently dropped into their laps if such an event were to occur.

It is these opportunists that are the most likely to milk a national tragedy all the way down to the very drop, only to see a little bit of money trickle down the pipeline of a mass media conglomerate. For those of you who don’t know, a media conglomerate is a company that owns multiple other media companies ranging from all types of formats. Some of which so big that they own almost all media you consume, meaning that if one specific media conglomerate were to milk a national tragedy, such as a mass shooting, not only would each very specific minute detail about both the shooting and shooter be broadcast everywhere, but it would be broadcast everywhere for however long they see fit.

As a culture, I feel like it is fair to say that Americans are of the most impressionable. And with the rise of social media we have seen millions of people participating in online challenges such as the mannequin challenge. As a whole these “challenges” have more or less brought people together. On the other hand, the frequency of mass shootings paired with how the media covers these shootings has created a brand new form of “online challenge.”

By broadcasting every bit of information regarding a mass shooting, everywhere, for however long they want, has done nothing but to desensitize Americans towards violence and give celebrity to a mass shooter. This in combination with the rise of social media has created a cancerous cocktail that our nation, ever so harshly, has poured down her throat, leaving behind a sore in the back of her mouth that not one person can reach.

In this day and age acceptance is everything. And if a person is deemed “socially unacceptable” by whatever today’s standards are, then more than likely they will find those who identify with themselves similarly, online. Again, acceptance is everything. And in 2019, a person is more or less thought of as useless if they don’t meet a certain criteria when coming to followers, likes and views online. And as I stated before, every detail about a mass shooting is absolutely broadcast everywhere. So, if a mentally ill, isolated product of the social media age were to see that somebody, somewhere, murdered 13 innocent people and got their name on every television screen, that person would go for 25 innocent people and gain even more celebrity than the last. This event would then spark a massive media frenzie done by multiple media conglomerates to milk as much detail out of the situation as possible, label the shooter, maybe give him a name such as Christopher Blakely, and ship off the story to the masses of impressionable drones only to make a quick buck, successfully inspiring the next mass shooter. And all it took was one well formulated paragraph.