“I’ve long thought that someone should offer comprehensive firearms training for the Fourth Estate. Well, someone has finally stepped up to fill that niche, and his name is Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City.” That bulletin comes from Herald-Tribune’s Lee Williams. What could possibly go wrong? Hizzoner figures the best way to report on “gun violence” is to make sure journos know more about guns and the issues surrounding them. And who better to fill those skulls full of mush than…Everytown for Gun Safety? . . .
So he’s made a very generous gift to the wonderfully named Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma to invite media members and shed a little light on the issues of guns in American society. All on Mayor Mike’s dime. And presented from his…unique…perspective.
Here’s the problem as the Dart Center sees it:
When it comes to reporting on guns, local and regional reporters bear the primary burden. They are often trapped into narrow deadline-driven beats with little time to develop expert sources, investigative angles or broader perspectives. And newsrooms and news managers are unprepared for the overwhelming, spasmodic tragedy of mass shootings. As a consequence, incidents of gun violence are too often viewed in isolation as random, inevitable tragedy rather than part of a wider phenomenon with complex causes but amenable to prevention efforts.
Geddit? It’s all about context. What busy ink-stained wretches need is someone to spoon feed them the right information.
The workshop, funded by Everytown for Gun Safety, will offer independent expert briefings and specialized reporting skills training to enhance the practical ability of journalists to report on guns and gun violence knowledgeably, ethically and effectively. The workshop will cover such topics as state and federal gun laws; patterns of gun sales and gun trafficking; national trends and polling; education and prevention initiatives; social, economic and public health impacts; and special populations (e.g. children and youth, women and returning veterans.)
And we’re sure that the reporters, editors, news directors, photographers, producers, and bloggers will hear a wide range of “independent” viewpoints and opinions during their two-day Bloomberg-financed junket to Phoenix. Surely, among all the civilian disarmers, social justice warriors, victims’ rights advocates public health officials and gun-averse peace officers, attendees will also hear from an NRA spokesman, someone from the NSSF and a gun safety trainer. Right? Won’t they?
The workshop will:
Serve as a forum for improving journalists’ knowledge of guns and gun violence, and the implications of public policies like background check requirements
Explore new research, reporting ideas and best practices with leading public health and policy experts
Confront challenges — and identify opportunities — that exist for local journalists pursuing these stories with limited resources
Provide practical tools to enable journalists to successfully produce meaningful stories on guns and gun violence.
So journalists will be able to travel to Phoenix – on Everytown’s dime – to get a two-day
indoctrination lecture on “gun violence” and the approved way to present it for public consumption. For maximum effect. From one side of the debate. Under the auspices of the the august Columbia Journalism School. Because journalism.
As Williams writes:
Problems with this? You bet. Issues like transparency, objectivity and bias come to mind.
I wonder how many editors would send reporters to a similar workshop sponsored by the National Rifle Association or the National Shooting Sports Foundation, even though the former has been providing firearms training for around 143 years.
Most editors would never allow one side of any contentious debate to provide coverage tips and techniques to their staff. But when it comes to guns, it’s okay — the double standard is allowable.
This “workshop” isn’t journalism training.