mass murder

Beyond covering vigils and funerals: What’s the Catholic church’s position on guns?

Beyond covering vigils and funerals: What’s the Catholic church’s position on guns?

I have attended many vigils and funeral services in my years as a news reporter. I did so primarily as a general assignment reporter covering crime in New York City throughout the early 2000s.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, I attended dozens of funerals for firefighters and other first-responders who perished during the collapse of the World Trade Center in the biggest terror attack on American soil.

There is a new terror threat that faces our nation. The rise of domestic terrorists with easy access to guns have made even a routine weekend trip to the mall something to fear. Those memories of covering vigils and funerals — many involving children and teens shot and killed in senseless gang violence — came flooding back to my mind this past weekend.

The back-to-back massacres — one at a Texas Walmart on Saturday and another in an Ohio nightclub the following day — cast a pall on our nation at a time when many families are enjoying time at the beach.

Again, the violence had to do with guns. As flowers and candles piled up at both scenes of the tragedy, the political response was all about finger-pointing and racism. It was yet another example of our country’s increased political (and news media) polarization. Mainstream media news coverage could be summed out this way: Democrats blamed President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, while Republicans pointed the finger at mental illness and violent video games.

The news coverage was predictable, boilerplate even. As usual, it lacked any real focus on religion, either in the many main news stories of the first few days or the sidebars that evolved. You would think the aftermath of two major tragedies wouldn’t lack talk of faith. Instead, the focus was politics — both regarding the motives of the shooters in each case and the need for gun control.

It’s a topic that comes up each time there is a mass shooting. And each time the coverage lacks any real consideration for what faith-based organizations are doing to try and stop future incidents. That is, have religious leaders offered more than prayers.

In this case, what the Catholic church has done to reduce gun violence has gone largely unreported or underreported the past few years.

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At anniversary of Emanuel AME attack, hometown newspaper provides more amazing coverage

At anniversary of Emanuel AME attack, hometown newspaper provides more amazing coverage

From the very beginning, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jennifer Berry Hawes and her newspaper, The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., have owned the story of the Emanuel AME Church shooting.

Just a few of the posts I've written over the last year praising Hawes, who covered the Godbeat full time before joining the Charleston paper's projects team.

To mark Friday's one-year anniversary of the attack on Emanuel AME, The Post and Courier produced a five-part narrative series written by Hawes.

This exceptional series takes readers behind the scenes of the shooting and the lives of those forever changed by it — and yes, Hawes once again nails the faith angle.

On Day 1 of the series, the chilling opening scene:

The assassin slinked past the Rev. Dan Simmons Sr. as the retired man of God lay dying in the church’s hallway. He slipped by an office where the pastor’s wife and little girl cowered under a desk. An hour earlier, the gunman, a young white supremacist with plans to start a race war, had strolled in through the heavy wooden side door just a few steps away.
Now, Polly Sheppard heard it slam shut behind him. Heavy silence descended.

 

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Vote! Which is the worst Gosnell lede?

A few positive thoughts before we look at coverage of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell’s trial.

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WPost demonstrates how not to respond to Gosnell critiques, again

It’s like drinking water from a fire hose. That’s what processing all of the information coming out right now about either the trial of abortionist Kermit Gosnell or the problems with the media coverage of same is like. I have 600+ emails in my inbox to open and they keep coming. Many want to just talk about the media coverage but some are from reporters asking for help covering the story. It’s very good news that reporters and editors are working to improve coverage of this story.

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Pod People: Media wake up to Gosnell failures

GetReligion’s critique of media coverage of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell’s trial has received quite a bit of attention in recent days. I’m glad, since we’ve been aware of the problem with media coverage of this topic since early 2011. My post from January of that year, “8 Murders in Philadelphia,” shows the history of problems in coverage.

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Politico and Atlantic.com's turn to explain Gosnell blackout

Earlier I shared what happened when I asked an AP reporter and a Washington Post reporter about their personal Gosnell blackouts.

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WPost reporter explains her personal Gosnell blackout

I’ve been writing about media coverage of abortion for many years. And so have many others. If you haven’t read David Shaw’s “Abortion Bias Seeps Into The News,” published in the Los Angeles Times back in 1990, you should. That report also explains why we cover the topic here at GetReligion.

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We need answers on Gosnell coverage

We’ve had a couple posts on the curious downplaying by the national media of the abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell’s mass murder trial going on right now in Philadelphia. We’ve noted, among other things, that USA Today is one of the few outlets to have mentioned the story more than once.

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Mainstream press on Gosnell: adjust the framing

Abortionist Kermit Gosnell is on trial in Philadelphia for killing a female patient and using scissors to cut the spines of fetuses that were aborted alive. According to the grand jury report, he killed “hundreds” of living fetuses. It was his “standard business practice.” Mysteriously, Gosnell kept fetal feet in jars, perhaps as mementos.

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