Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Power Of Media

In the last two days, I got to experience (and think about) the incredible power the media has over our opinion.

Fact: On Saturday, April 26, an exchange student from Germany has been shot and killed in Missoula, MT.

The headlines: German exchange student shot and killed after breaking into a garage in his neighborhood. Previously, he had broken into several other garages.

My thought: What the hell! Why hasn't this guy been arrested and sent home before that? Things like that happen when you break into someone's property in a country where many people have guns to defend themselves and their property.

The editorial: Obviously, it's been a game for the kids in the game to "break into" the garages in the neighborhood to organize some beer. It's been known and most people even have left beer for the kids to take in their garages (we're talking 17 or 18-year olds, not 12-year old kids). All garages have been unlocked, so no-one's property was damaged. The shooter, in contrast, has declared prior to the shooting that he was just waiting for one of those "effing kids" to show up so he could shoot them. He had left the garage door open and equipped his property with motion sensors and cameras to be notified as soon as someone entered his property.

Doesn't that change the story completely? A petty criminal turns into a young man who faced a gun nut. Were the "break-ins" a good idea? No, but it was not only accepted but even encouraged by many homeowners in the neighborhood. The student was a well-respected and loved member of the community back in Germany and in the U.S. and didn't want to do any harm. What probably scares most parents in that town is that it could have been their kid just the same.

What do I learn from this experience? Don't just read headlines to form an opinion, but investigate, inquire on the details, take your information from several sources.

Good night, everyone!


  1. Man, I really wish everyone kept that lesson in mind. The number of stupid arguments would drop drastically.

    1. That's so true. I've seen it so often that partial information caused unwarranted prejudice and bias. But I guess this is the blight of our fast-paced lives that don't allow time for a closer look any more..

  2. The media is crazy these days!

    1. They sure are. I actually felt a little ashamed of myself, reading the editorial that described the victim so different from what the headlines suggested. But I think that the vast majority never bothered to read the background story, and that is sad.