The Role of the Media in the Disparate Response to Gun Violence in America

There have been many cases of gun violence in America. For example, the school shooting that occurred in December 2012 in which 20 elementary school children were victims. This was one of the cases in which after plenty of shootings, both political and community leaders began to get involved.

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Many believe that the cause of awareness was because of the shootings in Newton. Regardless, of the prior shootings, statistics determine that many of the children involved in shootings resulted to be children of color, of which a majority of them come from low-income homes and neighborhoods in which they already encounter gun violence. Although it is widely known and often portrayed by the media that a mass of shootings occur in neighborhoods inhabited by a majority of Blacks it never has an equivalent result compared to the shootings in Newton. It is argued the lack of attention given these groups of children and people derives from the way the media depicts them to be.

The way the media has addressed Blacks versus Whites in the past has had a major effect in the interest of people. The stereotypes developed about Blacks may have been influential in the concern and empathy of media directors, which ultimately leads to the concern of the general population. The majority cause of homicides derives from gun violence and the greater part seem to be from Black descent. This includes males from the ages of 10 and 24, which are also more likely to be a victim of gun violence than anyone else. Studies demonstrate that Black minors were more likely to be victims of school shooting than their White counterparts. Those who survived were left with signs of post-traumatic disorders that could eventually lead to further danger in the lives of other minors. During the course of history, racial minorities have been negatively portrayed in the media. movie roles often portrayed stereotypes of racial minorities that included criminals, prostitutes, drug dealers, and drug users. In these results, Black women are often portrayed as immoral and, since then, widely perceived erotic others.

In a similar way, Black males have been perceived as savages and criminals. Blacks in particular, have held stereotypes existing among the general U.S. society. News outlets almost never show Blacks as victims. On the contrary, studies have revealed that news stations disproportionately choose to focus on Blacks as the assailants or perpetrators. The ability to associate Blacks as victims becomes increasingly difficult. News stories involving a Black victim are rarely given much attention, journalists do not find such stories as newsworthy. According to their study on the news value of Black victims, Weiss and Chermak (1998) noted, News media treat murders of African-Americans as being less important than murders of white victims. News selection decisions, and how events are presented to the public, are driven by what is considered extraordinary. The results indicate that race plays an important role in the decision making processes of news personnel. Murders involving African-Americans, in general, are considered ordinary. (p. 82) The fact that local news stations rarely feature stories involving Blacks as the victim indicates a lack of empathy among the viewing audience (Pritchard & Hughes, 1997).

Therefore the viewing audience is unable to understand Blacks as being victims versus being assailants (Bjornstrom et al., 2010; Eschholz et al., 2003). By focusing heavily on crime stories, news outlets effectively construct a subjective reality that makes the viewing audience believe that crime is more common than it actually is (Callahan, 2012; Eschholz et al., 2003; Gerbner, Morgan, & Signorielli, 1982). It sustains that crime is simply the cultural norm in urban areas including the deaths of children or minors as a part of that norm (Levine et al., 2012; Miller, 2010; Weiss & Chermak, 1998). As a result, the deaths of children or minors are viewed as nothing new. So those who live outside of such areas think the issue is something from which they are not part of, and therefore, not something for which they should be concerned. In conclusion, the historical and ongoing portrayal of Blacks in the media has maintained the negative stereotypes of Blacks as part of a culture that is violent and aggressive. The media has set upheld a depiction of Blacks as criminally inclined. Consequently, the rate at which children and minors within the inner city lose their lives to gun violence is generalized as manifestations of a norm among low-income Blacks. Efforts to resolve gun violence have been the responsibility of people within those communities suffering from gun violence. As a result, the numbers of Black minors who lose their lives, often on school grounds, go unnoticed.

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