Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Deadly Truth: Media coverage of gun violence in Chicago

With a recent media explosion over the hot topic of gun control, our class has also speculated where the media focuses their attention. Mass shootings are seeming to have become a commonplace with Oak Creek, the Oregon mall shooting, the Dark Knight incident, and now Newtown. However, as the media is usually offering extensive coverage of these tragic events, there are even MORE tragedies that occur on our very Chicago streets that often go uncovered by media. A powerful truth was spoken by Jens Ludwig, director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab:

“The gun violence problem in America gets a lot of attention when 20 white kids in Connecticut get shot all at once, but in general it doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it really needs to."

Since Jan. 1, Chicago police have recorded 2,364 shooting incidents and 487 homicides, 87 percent of them gun-related. Shootings have increased 12 percent this year and homicides are up 19 percent. Just like Sandy Hook, young people are often the targets of gun violence in Chicago as well. Chicago police have recorded that this past school year "319 Chicago public school students were shot, 24 of them fatally. The total does not include school-age children who had dropped out or were enrolled elsewhere." The numbers of casualties specifically from gun violence in Chicago FAR outweigh that of mass shootings on the national level, however Peter Slevin of the Washington Post notes that, "Their deaths usually go unmarked". We live in a world where almost all of our information comes from our televisions, computers, tablets, and smartphones, yet tragedies that occur every day in Chicago often go without notice.  Why does the media highlight certain shootings but leave out others, despite greater casualties?  I question whether race plays a role in the exposure (or lack thereof) of certain shootings. Ludwig's speculation (bolded quote above) really got me thinking if it were 20 black kids that were shot, would the media would focus as much attention on it? I'm not so sure the answer is yes.

Regardless of media exposure of Chicago gang violence, it is no question that the city of Chicago faces a major challenge to deal with this growing problem and changes need to be made to get more guns off the streets and in my opinion, need to establish more after school programs for Chicago Public School kids. Increasing the utilization of these programs would help get kids off the streets and from affiliating themselves with the city gangs that have caused many of shootings in Chicago. These types of positive changes would hopefully not only result in less gun related deaths, but also allow the media finally to focus on the "good" news that is coming off the streets of Chicago. I'd love to hear what you all think about media coverage and possible solutions for our beloved city. 


  1. Noah, Terrific job with this post. I like the pictures, the links, the font choices and most of all the analysis. My only real reservation is your tepid tone: "I'm not so sure..."?

    Overall very good job here and throughout the term.

  2. gh jan. 30 2013 our media has their own agenda and it has nothing to do with public saftey. it is all about the complete disarmement and enslavement of the general population

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