National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference that the media exploits mass shootings to improve ratings. “Many in legacy media love mass shootings. I’m not saying you love the tragedy, but you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold," she said.
The NRA also released a video in which it referred to the mass media as the “casting call for the next mass shooting.”
The Shop Talk panelists couldn’t disagree more.
Jasmine Crighton said Loesch is implying it would be better if journalists did not cover school shootings. Crighton doubts the public would be happy if the media ignored events that led to a massive loss of life, especially at a school. Crighton said the public needs to know about such tragedies so it can engage in an informed discussion about how to prevent them from happening again.
Rich Egger called Loesch’s remarks another attempt to villainize journalists and distract from real problems and solutions. He said he doesn’t know any journalists who enjoy covering tragedies and he doesn’t know of any who root for the chance to cover a mass shooting. He said it is part of the job to report on them if something happens.
Will Buss said journalists present facts whereas the NRA has become a business focused on protecting its image and brand. He said the NRA doesn’t like the negative publicity it gets after school shootings so it tries to create a distraction by blaming the media. He said journalists are needed now more than ever, especially after yet another school shooting.
Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.