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NY Times covers VA Tech: Excellence in facts/style, obliviousness to bias 4/17/07

Posted by Steve Boriss in Bias, Newspapers, NYTimes, Opinion, Virginia Tech.
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Yesterday’s events at Virginia Tech were an unspeakable tragedy. I suspect that only those who have lost loved ones to violence will be able to comprehend what the families of these innocent victims must be going through now, much less how it will continue to haunt them for the rest of their lives. Nevertheless, given that news shapes public opinion, which in turn guides policies that might lead to fewer such tragedies in the future, it is not uncompassionate to comment on how the media are covering this story. The New York Times provided its typical combination of excellence in facts and style, and obliviousness to its bias. Dropped-in among the facts is “Virginia imposes few restrictions on the purchase of handguns and no requirement for any kind of licensing or training. ‘Virginia’s gun laws are some of the weakest state laws in the country,’ said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. ‘And where there have been attempts to make some changes, a backdoor always opens to get around the changes, like the easy access at gun shows.'” What more needs to be said? How about the views of any other spokesperson that has a worldview anywhere to the right of center-to-far left. No expert to counter that the campus had designated itself a “gun-free” zone, putting into doubt whether such laws matter. No voice to point out that this “gun-free” designation might have actually encouraged the sniper, who could thereby be certain that no law-abiding citizen could use lethal force to disrupt his heinous act. Not to mention that the gun-free designation actually did preclude the possibility that a law-abiding citizen could intervene — perhaps committing a useful act of violence against one individual to preserve the lives of many others. If the people at the NY Times are as smart as they think they are, they ought to understand that their front page news stories actually do contain opinion — not that there is anything wrong with that. In the future of news, there will be opinion in news, but news outlets will admit it, and their readers will recognize and appreciate it as a benefit.

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