Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Local Television Media Finally Noticing Middle Tennessee's Gang Problem

I warned you back in January:
One of these days if [gang violence] blow[s] up, the local media will react just as it has with recent knowledge of inappropriate student-teacher relationships: figuratively scratching its head and wondering how so many reports of possible criminal behavior are coming in from no where. The stories didn't come from no where, it's just that the local news media was no where to be found as the stories were developing before they emerged.
Indeed, the local television news media is caught playing back on its heels with Middle Tennessee's growing gang problem. WKRN is a case in point of stations coming fashionably late to this issue rather than focusing laser-like on the problem in its early stages. Outside of the highly publicized Shopryland shooting over the weekend, WKRN only began to draw attention to this problem in late March after a nine-year-old boy was shot in North Nashville. I have been beating this drum for a year and a half. Johnny-come-lately News 2 is guilty of falling into the trap of "if it bleeds, it leads" rather than trying to hit this problem undercover and early before it started mushrooming.

Beyond the sensationalism of people actually being shot and killed, I do not know why WKRN has failed to be more proactive on these developments. Are they just now realizing that gang violence is not merely an urban problem? It would also be sensational to assume that there are no gangs in suburbs like Donelson. The police have already publicized the fact that they are everywhere in Davidson County. I understand that graffiti or traffic-stop gang arrests or urban-alley gunplay are not as sexy as people actually being killed later on, but it seems to me that waiting for people to die before reporting on a growing problem constitutes peccancy pimping. I always thought that journalists were supposed to be more community watchdogs setting off early-warning alarms about potential problems before they festered large-scale. If this is not an untoward thought on my part, I would continue to argue that the television media is failing us.

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