Staff Editorial: Coverage shortage for Navy Yard shooting

By Duke Staff

No matter which way you ingest your news, the fact remains that 13 people were shot dead, eight injured on Monday morning in Washington’s Navy Yard. The story of Aaron Alexis, the 34-year-old Texan, and his victims continue to circulate through the media stream, but not nearly with the force other tragedies seem to produce.

NBC News reports that the incident on Monday “was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December.”

Compared to the shooting at Sandy Hook, media coverage seems sparse. There wasn’t much to say prior to late afternoon after the majority of the shooting occurred. Background continues to form but new leads do not. At The Duke we ask ourselves: Does the problem lie with the media or the audience?

After analyzing how news outlets covered Monday’s shooting, trends among channels became clear. The focus, for once, isn’t on the attacker. It’s the victims that are making headlines. Bios of each of the 12 victims have been shared across all platforms of news rather than the glorification of the killer, a trend seen amongst news tragedies in the past such as the Boston Marathon bombing or Aurora, Co. shooting.

Humans enjoy a compelling story. When compared to the Boston Marathon bombing news sources such as CNN and The Huffington Post were more concerned with a steady update and page views instead of quality journalism. Statements were incessantly revoked and revised. These mishaps created attention, but also confusion.

In an article published on The Financial Times titled “Business as usual in Washington,” Gideon Rachman chronicled his experience of Monday morning: “I was about two miles away at a conference in a small hotel. Both guests and staff seemed largely unfazed by the nearby mayhem.”

The Navy Yard shooting did not bring in as much attention as shootings that claimed innocent lives at an elementary school, or a movie theater.

But why? Have acts of public massacre become too common?

In his second address regarding a mass shooting in a mere ten months, President Barack Obama called the act “cowardly” and labeled it “yet another mass shooting.”

Have Americans become used to the notion of ten or more innocent lives dying every six months? Or has the media run out of ways to sensationalize it?Have Americans become numb to the notion of ten or more innocent lives dying every six months? Or has the media run out of ways to sensationalize it?