HEADLINES/DEADLINES

When tragedy strikes, such as the mass shooting yesterday in Washington DC, members of the media naturally jump on the story and search for the quickest way to grab viewers’ attention as the news unfolds. This time, because of the alleged shooter’s “obsession” with playing Call of Duty, journalist rushing to meet their deadlines, focused on this angle of the story — all the better to whip up the moral panic already present in the public minds over violent video games.

Some examples of today’s headlines include:

Aaron Alexis: Washington navy yard gunman ‘obsessed with violent video games’

Washington Navy Yard shooting suspect Aaron Alexis ‘was fan of violent video games’

Washington Navy Yard killer often played “violent video games”

Alexis Friend: Shooter ‘Obsessed’ With Violent Video Games

But if readers look closer at the details around the suspected shooter, they would discover that the headlines could have just as easily highlighted other aspects of Aaron Alexis’ life, such as…

NAVY YARD GUNMAN BIG FAN OF VIOLENT AMERICAN FOOTBALL

NAVY YARD GUNMAN TRAUMATIZED WITNESS TO 9-11

NAVY YARD GUNMAN ARRESTED IN 2010 FOR SHOOTING GUN AT HOME

NAVY YARD GUNMAN PLAGUED WITH HEARING VOICES IN HIS HEAD

NAVY YARD GUNMAN BLACKED OUT AND SHOT UP CAR IN PAST

NAVY YARD SHOOTER, AFTER TWO SERIOUS INCIDENTS WITH GUNS, STILL ABLE TO PURCHASE WEAPONS

NAVY YARD GUNMAN DEVOTE BUDDHIST

(OK – maybe not that last one. But it’s also true, and shows just how complicated it can get, trying to boil down someone’s life into a headline…to meet your deadline.)

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