Despite my job as a language teacher and my weekly blogposts here at Rational Urbanism I don’t consider myself an expert on words, but I was surprised to learn that the noun “shooting”, as in “There was a shooting on Bliss Street”, does not necessarily mean that anyone was shot, but only that a gun was fired. That is according to local media at least, if not the on line dictionaries I afterward sought out for confirmation.
To clarify, in a news piece at “22 News” a report states that there had been a dozen shootings, but that 9 people had been shot. What I believe is occurring is that a decision was made to intentionally conflate the following two meanings:
Another Shooting in Springfield
From which a casual listener might infer that someone was shot, but where in truth there was just the sound of gunfire.
Clever. If your goal is to hype violence and stoke fear rather than inform.
This gem was remarkable as well:
It turns out that according to this report, 2 of 10 “shootings” took place within “a few blocks” of a school. Not that they happened while schools were in session mind you, just within “a few blocks” of “a school”; in a city with 26,000 public school students, 60 public schools, and a number of private and parochial ones along with 4 university campuses and a handful of satellite campuses…in 30 square miles. And the “fact” that two of them took place “precisely” within a few blocks of schools is newsworthy? Ridiculous. Could they more obviously attempt to be stoking fear about a community?
I say “about” a community and not “in” because I don’t think that people in the tougher neighborhoods in Springfield are the target audience; the target audience is their older white middle class viewers that they keep glued to the TV by keeping them in a constant state of fear at the same time they seek to engage a sense voyeurism by purporting to reveal the underside of that “culture of the other”.
In a year where crime is down 10% and murders are down 50% over the previous year, which year continued a trend of crime dropping precipitously from its height in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the local tv news “leader” continues to run with fear. But only certain types of fear. This was the worst stretch of violence the city had experienced this year, so perhaps they could be forgiven for jumping on it so greedily, but the same station did not run a single story making any connections or links when in the first 9 days of the new year 9 people died on the roads of their viewing area. 9 dead bodies, a handful more seriously injured, and just as many more charged with greater or lesser crimes as a result. We never saw the tag line:
Mayhem on local highways
Death awaits you on your trip to the store to buy milk
3 of 7 fatal accidents took place on roads with schools
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