If someone gets shot, and no one hears it, has that person truly been shot?
By A.F. James MacArthur Ph.A.L.
There were two murders over the weekend, but like most people, you probably didn’t hear about it. Even an avid follower of news would have easily missed it. Why? Because no one covered it. The little coverage eventually surfacing was sparse, bereft of detail, and filled with errors.
It’s a sad reality, a symbolic indicator of our collective disconnect and resignation to accept low standards, when people getting gunned down in the streets is no longer news. The loss of human life is relegated merely to another dot on an already crowded crime map. The shooting’s added to a list, a numerical statistic chronicling the battleground that is Baltimore.
Are we embarrassed by all the violence? Doubtful. Perhaps we’re tired of hearing about it. That’s scary. With problems as systemic as ours, ignoring and denying them certainly won’t make them go away.
ACCURACY IN MEDIA
So back to the two murders. The first happened early Sunday morning. At 1:40 a.m. Baltimore Police announced via twitter:
"Shooting, Liberty Hts/ Gwynn Oak, adult male shot 1:40 AM Apr 25th"
No further details were ever released by the police, but 59 minutes later, after arriving on scene, this writer tweeted the following via www.twitter.com/BaltoSpectator:
"Shooting at Liberty/Gwynn Oak appears to be fatal. Lots of crime scene tape & crime lab techs on scene.2:39 AM Apr 25th"
Sunday’s news saw no mention of the shooting. One wonders why a news paper, the daily paper of record, the only paper really, the largest local media, having a website and able to add news before press time, often finds itself so slow to break news. That’s if they ever mention it at all. Indeed many shootings never make the news.
It would not be until 7:45 p.m. that Justin Fenton of the Baltimore Sun reported the following in referring to the two weekend shootings;
“The first occurred about 2:30 a.m. Sunday in the 4800 block of Liberty Heights Ave., in Northwest Baltimore's Howard Park neighborhood.”
Just a second, if the police tweeted the shooting at 1:40 a.m., how come the Sun says it happened at 2:30? The case for having different voices in local media continues to be made. Without new media, including independent and alternative blogs and sites like this, who’s going to keep an eye on the establishment media? Who’s going to compel them to offer more comprehensive coverage of the scourge of violence destroying this city?
While having good sources and talking to spokesmen and public relations people is essential, often times, this is not a substitute for planting two feet on the ground and pounding pavement.
In Part II we’ll discuss the second shooting and how citizen journalism fills in the gaps.