Oct 162002
Authors: Collegian Editorial Board

Don’t worry about being shot by a sniper while you pump gas or go shopping. Chances are it won’t happen, especially in Colorado.

This may sound obvious, but a recent USA Today poll said 47 percent of Americans are worried about being the next victim of a random sniper.

We think that this is due to the over saturation in media coverage and the lack of context that usually accompanies it.

This is nothing new for the media.

Last year the anthrax cases kept many people from opening their mail. This summer after some kids were kidnapped, everyone was scared their kids would be next. The summer before that, there was a frenzy over shark attacks after many cases were reported along America’s coastlines.

In each case, the chance of the item being reported happening to the average person was slim, and even though it was important to report these stories, the reporting should have included some context along with the facts.

With the sniper case, there are stories quoting police officials, many on the condition of anonymity, saying police were looking for a middle eastern man, or possibly Hispanic. We think the information about the potential Arab gunman is especially dangerous when the source isn’t even confirmed. That might make many people very afraid this sniper is a terrorist.

Like the stories of the past, we think this story should be covered. But it should also include information telling people the likelihood of sniper attacks happening where they live and imploring people to keep on living their lives as normal.

This may be difficult considering the very competitive nature of news and the fact that more papers are sold and ratings are higher when the news is about another sniper killing. Fear sells.

However, we feel the media need to be more responsible considering what is at stake – people’s sanity.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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