The Spectrum of Death: Perspective on News Coverage

The Tragedy as well as the News

Tragedy, fittingly but unfortunately, makes news.

When a terrorist attack slays innocent victims, the terror gets the attention of the media. When a random street shooting victims are innocent people shootings, they trigger coverage in local newspapers. When soldiers are killed during an assault the bravery of the victims and casualties get a lot of attention and praise.

In addition, an extensive, and horrifying assortment of similar incidents receive essentially guaranteed and often instant media coveragenot just the recently mentioned terrorist attacks, street murders and military casualties, but also the calamities and heartbreaks that result from hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, serial shootings, mass killings plane crashes, explosions, diseases, famines, genocides, deaths of the first responders and so on. In almost all cases, the channels of news have a report HAPPY BUILDING CHEAM in depth, and often, about these types of events. Death cuts through the core of our human spirit. The media, acting as a means of communication and as a reflection of human nature are obligated to report respectfully and with dignity on these tragedies. We can and should expect no less.

The reality is that not every tragedy becomes news; media reporting of fatalities does not encompass the greater, more broad number of deaths. Millions of people across our nation die every year due to cancer, heart disease or diabetes. each year. Everyday, in the hundreds unfortunate or in many cases imprudent die in auto accidents or the afflicted with their own deaths in suicide, the elderly in falls, and the young of prenatal complications and birth defects.

This largerand wider set of casualties is able to receive sometimes, media coverage, as well as periodic and detailed special reports, and Asian Model Cam we respond to these deaths with the same concern, empathy anxiety and sadness as most frequently reported forms of tragic events. But clearly, media reporting of deaths resulting from this group of causes, deaths from cancer, or strokes or falls by elderly people, or suicides, that reporting generally is less and is much less on a per death basis, than reporting garnered by the headline incidents mentioned earlier such as the murders committed by terrorists, murders resulting from street violence, deaths of combatants as well as the victims of mass shootings, and people killed in airplane crashes.

This is not an attempt to denigrate, attack or denigrate the essential and critical coverage of horrific and fatal incidents that the media do report, nor does this argue for any less coverage for terrorist acts, or natural disasters, or even casualties in our armed forces or first responders. This coverage shows respect and honor to the unlucky and many times innocent and unsuspecting victims. The coverage also spurs us to take action to increase our security against terror, to contribute, to volunteer, to increase safety, ensure that our government is accountable, and to demand better corporate behavior in order to improve our disaster preparations, to alter our routines or simply to learn and comprehend.

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And if we find ourselves overwhelmed by this sort of burden then we may turn our back for a moment of respite. But if we lacked coverage that we could take on the need.

Why is there such a strong anxiety about the differing levels, and even differing levels, of coverage for the various segments of the spectrum of deaths?

Why? Since if we really wish to prevents deaths and preserve life, we should check. We should determine if there are different levels of reporting of various causes of death and fatalities, whether those differing levels cause us to overlook, possibly unintentionally, critical and important lifesaving efforts. Do we neglect or overlook actions and programs that could be used to stop and lessen the incidence of deaths?

Aspects of Newsworthy

Let’s first look at what makes an incident make it newsworthyand what brings a story to the threshold warranting reporting.

For starters, and as it is an obvious thing the word “newsworthy” implies that the event is unique, sometimes absolutely new, as if it was a brand new discovery, but more often new extraordinary, unusual and compared to the regular sequence of the events. The incident should stand out against the immense background of innumerable happenings that occur all day long, at different times a day in different places.

For instance, think about trees. The lumber industry harvests, hopefully with a green approach, millions of trees a year. This is nothing remarkable and not usually covered. However, when one of the trees that are harvested will be used as the main feature of the holiday display say that in the DC Ellipse this particular tree willmost likely be worthy of media attention. Also, in regards to the tragedy media coverage, it’s not about the vast expanses of forest where trees are growing in a steady, even sluggish way every day, but to those several thousand acres that explode into deadly and destructive forest fires.

Imagine your commutes or travels for work or business. Thousands and thousands of planes, trains subways and buses complete their daily journeys successfully, though more often than desired subjecting the passengers to uncomfortable, but not major, discomforts. The focus of the reporting is on those few trips that fail to make it to their destination, due to an accident, derailment or the need for an emergency evacuation.

What other key attribute elicits powerful reporting? Humanity’s poignancy. The cab driver with a great attitude who is a tireless worker to retrieve the violin that was put in the taxi such an incident draws news interest. Beauty of Cherry Blossoms as they are at Washington, DC, and again to use another example involving trees, strikes us with beauty and elegance, and as such can become a photo or video feature in the media.

On the tragic side, the poignancy runs darker instances of awe-inspiring inequity, terrifying vulnerability, or a mystifying source. Terrorism engulfs us in all these dimensions. We feel resentful at the unfairness that is imposed on innocent victims and the psyche of the barbaric killer; we are left believing that there is no limit to the reach of these acts and yet we are unable to be able to comprehend or appreciate how or why someone would justify killing someone else.

News is also designed to educate usand inform us, of important events that have a major impact. We receive daily weather and traffic reports in short excerpts, when conditions are normal, but when the weather or traffic is at the extreme — the explosion of a truck closes the entire expressway or a winter storm is threatening deep snow, large drifts, and strong windsthe coverage grows to help us prepare and to report the impact.

It is now possible to, on an abstract level, appreciate the different levels of coverage across the gamut of tragedies and deaths. We are able to understand this since at a broader level, we see an unintentional, or perhaps not so subtle, distinction in the coverage of news media. The coverage is not centered on events that fall within specific categories. Instead, in a great measure, news reporting picks out eventsfrom any and every category, with the prominent characteristics mentioned above.

Examine the politics and the government. A great deal of information about these subjects, say the innumerable webpages of the Federal Register or the multiple daily and weekly speeches in the halls of Congress, goes by with little reportage.

If a scandal is exposed, reporting often follows. The scandal captivates us with the conflation of deceit and privilege and special influence. That poignancy triggers news attention. So, the media divulges and exposes the private plane travel of an Congressional representative or the extravagant enhancements to the offices for a chief administrator or secret meetings held by officials of campaigns with foreign operatives.

However, the majority of media outlets will bypass stories of lower interest for human beings and emotionally charged content. Think about the last time we may have seen a news feature on whether alternate algorithms for distributing medical research grants would improve the life expectancy after heart surgeries.

Let me not overstate the media’s bias in the reporting of death. There are certainly investigative reports on low profile events and their causes. The media’s attention to the dramatic, incredible, or devastating is not an absolute. But certainly the tendency runs through the media with a ferocious.

This characteristic is consistent with our theory here, that news provides only a partial perspective on the range of death. The news highlights the exceptional as well as the emotional, intense, the incredibly impactful, the directly related to immediate preparation, but misses to a large degree the typical, the recurring or the insignificant.

From a practical perspective there are many deaths that fall into this category, and thus in turn fall below the media’s radar. The deaths from strokes and suicides the occurrence of cancer and falls as well as a variety of similar daily, recurring and common causes, these deaths sum collectively to an enormous toll. However, each death considered as a whole, does not have, in the vast percentage of cases, the media attention or drama that would get into the news.

Do the data on fatalities support this observation that the casually and under-reported fatalities represent frequent and repeated causes of deaths? Let’s look at the data for confirmation.

Spectrum of Death Spectrum of Death

The first six causes of fatalities receiving an extensive and thorough coverage across the entire spectrum of media types and levels as well as look at fatality data for each. The six comprise the following, and are referred to as “the first group”:

  • Weather
  • Mass Shootings
  • Police Fatalities
  • Armed Forces Casualties
  • Airplane Crashes
  • Assaults

The fatality data below refer to the United States.

Weather The National Weather Service reports a total of 9,714 deaths due to weather-related causes during the 17 years of 2000 to 2016. The weather events span many different types of weather, including tornadoes, floods, hurricanes or blizzards as well as wind. These include deaths directly attributable to the weather. We could project a similar, or even greater, number of ancillary deaths such as heart attacks resulting from the psychological or physical stress caused by the extreme weather however, they are not directly related to the weather.

Mass shootingsA compilation of the organization Violence Against Guns lists 1,086 deaths in mass shootings, including terrorists, in the period from 2014 until 2016. Mass shootings, in their compilation, comprise incidents with injuries of more than four or deaths.

Statistics on Police Deaths The report Violence Against Guns also identifies that 259 police officers have been killed due to gun violence in the three years. It is also reported that the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has a higher figure 416 for the same period of time. This fund covers traffic-related and other reasons, while the first is focused on gun-related.

Armed Forces – In the major combat operations across the Middle East and Afghanistan, the armed forces, all branches, have sustained 6,918 casualties between 2000 and the middle of 2017. The numbers include all causes, both those incurred during combat and those resulting from non-hostile incidents.

Airplane Crashes Crashes of all aircrafts, including helicopters and private planes, as as commercial jets, have taken 9,925 lives in the U.S. from 2000 to mid-2017. From the total 1,264 crashes, there were six or more fatalities during the crash. The NTSB report does not mention casualties on the ground, so the numbers here exclude deaths of those who died at the World Trade Center and at the Pentagon however, they include passengers on planes.

Assaults Tragically, assaults caused the deaths of 15872 people in just one year, 2014 as reported by the Center for Disease Control, basing their data on the comprehensive collection of all deaths reported in the system of universal reports. More than two-thirds of these fatalities were caused by firearms, and the victims had an average of the young age of just 35.

This first group of causes of death do take a heavy toll of lives lost. As is evident by the young age average of assault victims, the factors that caused the deaths cut off many generations from the prospects of those who suffer.

The goal is to be able to see the bigger picture. Six other causes of death also impacted individuals in their late or middle age and their average date of death listed after the name of the cause. We’ll refer to this group of six the “second class”.

  • Prenatal Issues – Age under one year
  • Birth Defects: Average age under 30 with half or more being less than 15
  • Suicides are averaging less than 50. Half of them are committed with firearms
  • Vehicle Accidents-Average less 45
  • Drug-Related Drugs – Average less than 45
  • Drowning – Average less than 40

The six causes of fatalities resulted in their own number of victims as follows, for one yearand then again in 2014, as reported by the CDC.

  • Pre-natal Issues – 11,897
  • Birth Defects 9610 – 9,609
  • Suicides – 42,826
  • Auto Accidents – 35,398
  • Drug-Related – 42,032
  • Drowning – 3,406

We do not want to venture into judgments of the importance of one life verses another, or which causes of death is more noble or tragic over the other. However, we are able to- and must — note that the loss lives from the second category of causes is a cause for death with noticeably more frequency than that of the previous group. The second group has a death rate of around 100 thousand people each year, far more than the first five of factors in the first group that have been killed since 2000, and well more annually than the sixth item attacks, in the first group.

In contrast to the larger number of fatalities, media coverage of the second group is substantially lower than for the primary group. The second group accounts for hundreds of deaths each day. However, individual deaths in the second group get national attention only infrequently, maybe a couple dozen times a year, mostly in connection with noted individuals or celebrities. On a local scale, five of the six categories, excluding auto accidents, receive only periodic coverage of specific incidents. Auto accidents, however, do garner significant local news coverage of singular deaths; however the coverage, when one follows for more than a few days, is shorter and with less emphasis than murders, and even crimes that are not fatal.

As we’ve said before This does not raise any objections when it comes to reporting on plane crashes or mass shootings or the heroic actions of first responders as well as Armed forces personnel. Additionally, topics like drunk driving, birth defects, as well as suicides involving guns, as well as deaths caused by painkillers, do get periodic coverage.

Be aware how a massive shooting could trigger hours of continuous coverage, and a major aircraft crash may be worthy of coverage for weeks, days and even months. On the other hand, we might not have seen any news feature or special report about suicide or drowning among celebrities during the past one or two months or, if there was, it was a brief mention. There may be a brief in-depth report on pre-natal deaths as well as birth deformities, however, there was never a current news spot reporting the deaths of that day due to these causes. Rarely, if ever, does the reporter visit an institution to speak with doctors regarding items from the second group, and a hundreds of reporters request comments from medical personnel regarding terror attacks and mass shootings.

A third group comprises the highest number of deaths, and is comprised predominantly of medical-related causes. While the first group totaled around 10-20 thousand deaths per year, and the second group with 100 or more deaths per year, this third group is responsible for, at present at least, two millions U.S. deaths a year. This group comprises six major medical conditions, with the numbers below displaying the 2014 death toll:

  • Leukemia (all organs) 591,00
  • Heart (including circulation disorders) 87,000
  • Lung (including influenza) – 258,000
  • Brain (including stroke) – 120,000
  • Other Organs (liver, kidney, prostate, digestive) – 96,000
  • Other Health Conditions (diabetes Other Infections anemia) – 172,000

The average age for these causes generally exceeds 65, to the point that it provides a perspective. In particular, the 2014 figures show 50 thousand deaths from these causes among people aged 15 to 45, and 400 thousand deaths among those between 45 and 64.

In terms of media coverage as per death basis and on a gross basis deaths in this third category receive very little coverage. It is not suggest that incidents occurring in the first group will receive any less coverage. But the qualitative observations in the earlier sections of the discussion, and the discussion of quantitative aspects here showed an almost inverted relationship between media coverage and the amount of deaths attributed to any given cause.

Does this influence our actions? That’s why we turn.

The Struggles for Preservation

Everyday conscientious individuals work to safeguard life, prevent the onset of death, and prolong our lives. And no doubt these efforts cover all causes of death.

Some efforts are given more interest than others.

Our current candidates are focused upon the need for funding for first responders, on the security of our neighborhoods, as well as on the readiness and actions of our armed forces to stop terrorist attacks. Similarly, the elected officials in our legislative bodies are able to debate, but not always reaching a consensus on laws and steps to prevent mass shootings or the possession of fire weapons by criminals, gang members and mentally unstable.

There isn’t the same intense political focus on stopping the mentally ill and those who are morally criminal, from using firearms to commit suicide.

The media can be a valuable resource by highlighting the things we can do and to whom we can contribute to provide assistance from all kinds of natural disasters. Natural disasters do not only bring casualties, but also massive and devastating economic and physical damages.

The media doesn’t emphasize thoroughly or in a way that is sure of what we can do or who we can help in the event that heart attacks, industrial accidents, or even auto accidents, end up taking the life of a family’s breadwinner, leaving children and spouses not just in mourning, but also financially strained.

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