Thursday, October 30, 2003

One Fake Gun, One Real One

Someone carries a toy gun into the Capitol, no one gets hurt, some people are inconveniences and it is big news (Google lists 230 article on it - the Post has six people contributing to the report). A couple of miles away from the Capitol two high school students are shot, one fatally, with a real gun, real bullets. The Washington Post reports it from the AP wire in a four paragraph column [they subsequently added to the story when the one student died].

Poor people are shot and killed - minor news. Rich people get a fright - big news.

Of course this happens all the time. It is not just what is considered "news" but also who gets covered. Senator's wife is kidnapped - big news. Prostitute gets kidnapped and raped by five men - it gets a line in the police logs.

The reason we have freedom of the press is so that the truth cannot be hidden from us. But if the press hides it, the public does not know the truth. If people don't know of a problem they will not demand change. Politicians can then get away with not addressing these issues (or they just claim to be "tough on crime" without truly addressing the cause of the crime.)

One argument is that these stories don't sell. But surely the founders of the country did not demanded that there be freedom of the press just so that the press could be a profitable business. Two Students Shot Outside Anacostia High School (

No comments: