We need to talk about the media’s exploitation of high school students who survive mass shootings
We really need to talk about school shootings a lot more, even if President Trump happens to retweet a shitload of tweets in a span of 30 minutes, and reputable outlets feel more of an urgency to make that announcement, instead of tracking the damning number of shooting massacres that have occurred since the new year began.
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Gun violence is the ongoing national crisis that is traumatizing American families across the country, and somehow we’ve managed to normalize the horrors of watching another emotionally-wrought episode of high school students, being forced to repeatedly and tearfully recount the harrowing ordeal of witnessing the shooting deaths of classmates, who weren’t able to escape the fate of being casualties of war.
The bloody battle for survival is a bitter one with unforgivable consequences when you consider how the United States of America is anything but “united.”
Most of the population is desperately trying to figure out how and why President Trump and his nefarious gang of enablers, under the guidance of the NRA, are hellbent on lounging in their million dollar recliners, without a care in the world, while high school seniors are positioned in the front lines, unarmed and ready to tackle clear and present danger.
This is the unfathomable testimony that was hauntingly provided to over-paid anchors at cable news networks like CNN, where the topic of discussion became the latest horrific incident at STEM School Highlands Ranch, located in Douglas County, Colorado.
On May 7th, 2019, two domestic terrorists entered the school grounds with the intent to kill, and until we stop referring to them as “perpetrators,” “shooters” or anything else that deviates from what they truly represent in the eyes of those attacked and killed, we will never truly respect the gravity of each of these cases.
The dramatic arc of this violent encounter between students and the terrorists “carrying handguns and other weapons,” happened in a classroom, when one of the terrorists entered, pulled out a gun and ordered everyone to stay put.
3 very brave 18-year-old seniors, Kendrick Ray Castillo, Joshua Jones, and Brendan Bialy, immediately left their desks and took the high risk of protecting their classmates by lunging at the terrorist and slamming him against the wall.
Once the struggle ensued, gun shots were fired, and Jones suffered wounds to his leg and hip, Bialy was unharmed and managed to force the weapon away from the terrorist.
Kendrick Ray Castillo was shot in the chest and didn’t survive.
The aftermath played out in similar fashion as notable news organizations raced to the scene of the crime to competitively cover the latest event that ended with 1 dead, and 8 injured — all students.
The days after also unfolded with predictable segments featuring guests of honor in the form of 6th and 7th graders, being relentlessly badgered by exposure-hungry morning anchors, who’ve become demonstratively numb to these sobering incidences, which makes their grueling interactions with these poor young survivors of gun violence — excruciatingly hard to watch.
The worst of the lot has to be the CNN interview with the parents of the young man who is being hailed a hero, Kendrick Ray Castillo, and how at the end of the depressingly uninspiring exchange, New Day co-host, John Berman, ill-advisedly decided to point out how the bereaved parents of the high school senior who died because of the gross negligence of our government — were finding comfort in being able to painfully share their sorrow with wearied viewers.
But actually much worse than that shit is the shit of parading little children about for the sake of bolstering the career trajectories of media stars like Brooke Baldwin, who garnered attention for how “stunned” she was listening to a 12-year-old survivor describe how he was willing to “go down fighting” in the heat of a gun battle in his classroom.
The mere fact that this little boy was thrown into a situation that demanded his ability to make life and death decisions within a matter of seconds is truly an American tragedy.
But what exacerbates that terrifying reality is the way the media exploits America’s abused children, who’ve literally been to hell and back, and desperately need the time and space it will take to begin the long road to recovery.
The very last thing they need or deserve is the blood-thirstiness of deadened newsrooms, that are populated with lackluster reporters, who only care about national emergencies when shit happens, but outside of those tragic occurrences, non-stop coverage revolves around the bullish oaf in the White House — who sustains their livelihood.
We need to talk about how CNN and others in that category, need to refrain from profiting from the acute pain of others under the guise of splashy promos for TV events like the recent “Champions For Change,” that featured one of the prominent survivors of the Parkland School shooting, David Hogg, who is still committed to his stance as an advocate for gun control.
Aliysn Camerota, a former Fox News host and current co-host of CNN’s New Day, anchors the segment where she “follows up” on Hogg’s continued progress in the fight for a thorough revision of the gun laws in a country that values high-powered weaponry over the young lives that are threatened daily.
It may sound like a worthwhile endeavor on Camerota’s part to engage with the heroic young soldiers who are being groomed for the battle of their lives.
But at the same time it’s disconcerting that conversations about domestic terrorism, and the gun violence that helps to facilitate these murderous pursuits of homegrown terrorists, aren’t being hosted with the frequency that matches the direness of a national catastrophe.
The media can’t continue to rely on tear-jerking moments, that showcase dazed and confused youngsters, who are still processing the truth of how they almost died, as the reliable currency of award-winning coverage.
It’s beyond unbearable to witness the unfazed disposition of anchors during the line of questioning, as they nonchalantly lead their traumatized interviewees through the maze of the generic Q&A, as inconsolable parents offer support.
News organizations could be playing a major role when it comes to amplifying the voices of those are tirelessly spotlighting all the reasons why we can’t ignore the potency of these national emergencies, that are eating our young alive, with many more victims waiting to be devoured by the revolting greediness and criminality of this toxic administration.
But that would mean drastically reducing the reportage on Trump and his tweet-fests or the celebrated nicknames he assigns to his detractors. Those are the stories that soak up interests of newsrooms, and leave very little or no time for the relentless adherence to issues of gun violence and domestic terrorism in the form of hate crimes and rampant school shootings.
Since it’s abundantly clear that well-positioned anchors would rather spend their slots dissecting yet another Trump-related scandal, while offering minimal attention to matters of life and death, then it’s only fair that scarred children are left out of the activated scenarios.
Stop maximizing the theatrics of brutalized young survivors for personal gain, and without any consideration for the severity of those experiences, especially when you intend to tune-off once the trend runs out of steam.
The-media-at-large is no longer dedicated to the illustrious task of honorable and fair reporting because of how smitten the industry is by Trump’s polarizing presence, and how the current forecast displays the gloominess of another sour election that will replicate the grimness of 2016.
All we ask is that while the craziness continues to prevail, please do us a solid, and leave the kids out of it!