Media’s role and the power of words in times of tragedy Media's role and the power of words in times of tragedy

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By Claudia Bellofatto SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)– Eleven lives were lost and several more people were injured after a shooting in a Pittsburgh Synagogue on Sunday. Only days before, two innocent victims were shot to death unexpectedly at a grocery store in Kentucky.

It is common after such tragedies for media outlets, both national and local, to uncover further details in the following days. It is also common that there is heavy conversation surrounding gun control following such an incident. Many people also look to the President of the United States, who often  has words of condolences or comfort.

This time around was no different. President Trump tweeted about the event, calling it “An assault on humanity,” saying “We must unite to conquer hate.”

The next day after the shooting, President Trump tweeted, urging those coming in the migrant caravan to immigrate legally and threatening the “bad people” he says are in the “mix” that if they enter illegally, “Our Military is waiting for you!” The president got some backlash with people considering his staunch opposition to illegal immigration as the opposite of uniting and conquering hate.

So, while the President is showing his support after tragedies that are believed to be racially or antiseptically driven, some people believe he is simultaneously degrading the Mexican community and enforcing violence and aggression.


“It is definitely clear that Trump’s presidency and Trump’s rhetoric make it easier for people to express hate and find solidarity in expressing hate,” journalist David Perry  Perry said.

Media as a conglomerate plays a hand in the phenomenon as well, Perry believes.

“I think social media, like headlines, pull quotes and teasers are revealing framing, and that framing of stories definitely influences copy cats,” he said.

Perry wrote in a recent article about the media coverage of the shooting that happened in a Kentucky grocery store last week. He brings up the important issue to consider about the role of journalist that cover tragedies such as this one:

“An act like what happened in the Kroger parking lot takes place in really big context … context including our current political climate, context including 300 years of racism in our country, context including access to firearms. There a lot of different kinds of context and part of the job of a journalist is to make those more visible as appropriate,” Perry said.

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