Monday, June 22, 2015

In my little town

What happened in Charleston last week is terrible.  Innocent people gunned down in a place that should have been a safe haven. It's a tragedy.

And it made some bad memories come back, because a few years ago, it happened here.

I remember listening to the radio that day, and hearing the first confusing reports of something happening downtown, and hearing the sirens and seeing the police helicopters overhead from my office, across town from the Civic Association.

And I remember that it made the national news that night, and briefly the night after, and then my little town was left to pick up the pieces, and hold the church services, and plan the memorials.

So while I think the ongoing coverage in Charleston is certainly somberly appropriate to such a tragedy, I guess I just don't understand why the coverage is so overwhelming, in every branch of the media.

Is it because Charleston is a big city, as opposed to my little town?

Is it because the murderer is a white supremacist, and the victims are black, and it occurred in a place with a history of racism?

Is it because the murderer in my little town was Asian, and most of the victims were recent immigrants, and thus ... I don't even know ... somehow less "deserving" of media coverage?

I don't know.  Personally, I'm glad that the media didn't converge on my little town back then, at least not for more than the first day.  I think there's something to letting towns grieve on their own.

But as I leaf through page after page of coverage in the newspaper, and see story after story after story on TV and on line, and listen to continuing radio coverage, I have to wonder where all the media were back then.

Back in 2009. In my little town.


~~Silk said...

I think the difference is that to become widely covered, there has to be a "hook", like children, or racism, or a political point (that makes it terrorism), or an expressed reason of some kind that we can talk about. The guy in your town was just plain crazy. Nothing to create discussion. No one to pin blame on, nothing to fix. You just shake your head and move on. (By the way, I remember that case. At the beginning, there was the theory that he'd been fired by IBM, and that's what set him off. I was living in an IBM-dense area at the time, so until the theory was quashed, there actually was a lot of fuss in the local news. We temporarily had something, someone, to blame.)

A very few years ago (I wrote about it in my blog) a guy entered a nursing home in one of the Carolinas and shot up a bunch of defenseless old folks, killed something like nine people. There was a brief mention in the news, and then nothing.

It's not the number of people killed that makes it national news, or the ethnicity or race, it's the reason, the HOOK. Crazy alone doesn't do it, unless there was a lot of warning that had been ignored. Then "somebody should have done something" is the hook.

Domestic Kate said...

2009--yep, I was about 2 months away from moving to California, still living in that area. I remember.

Because it was immigrants? Yes, I'm sure that has something to do with it. More likely, though, is that anti-black crime stories are hot right now. They're building momentum. Don't get me wrong; I'm glad these stories are getting this much attention when they've been glossed over for far too long, but if it hadn't been for Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, the Charleston shooting probably wouldn't have gotten the attention it's getting now.

fmcgmccllc said...

They are shooting up Detroit like crazy right now and not too much mention. Probably because it is what they call black on black crime. The fireworks went off okay because they were moved ahead and it rained directly before and after. I don't think this will be an easy summer.

rockygrace said...

~~Silk, I think you're right - "just plain crazy" ain't enough to make big headlines. *sigh*

and Kate, yep, you were here, weren't you? I have to wonder if the media outlets are afraid that if they don't give it "enough" coverage, they'll be called racist, so they're going the other way and giving it "too much" coverage. Not to say that these deaths don't "deserve" to be covered, of course - it's just interesting that it's getting about twenty times the coverage that the mass shooting in my town got.

haha sorry about all the quotation marks - now I'm making air quotes with my hands. :)

p.s. Congrats again on the big news!

rockygrace said...

fmcetc., there was one brief blurb in the paper here yesterday about a shooting at a block party in Detroit. Other than that, nothing.