Clapham shooting: media hype or worthy debate?
Billy Cox, the fifteen year old boy who was shot dead on my estate on Wednesday, was one of the fifty people who are killed each year in gun crime. For the British media however this was something much more.
“WARZONE UK….NIHILISTIC ANARCHY!” screamed the Daily Mail.
“NO END TO GUN CRIME?” was Sky News’ dubious headline last night.
I could go into the journalistic flaws in a headline including “no end to…” but that’s beside the point. The point is I am apparently living in the centre of nihilistic anarchy. Really? If I was, would I have been able to pop down to the shops for a pint of milk yesterday? Would my mate Jimmy have been able to come round to watch the Reading-ManU match?
Surely we would need to have been wearing flak jackets and I would have expected to have been airlifted to safety by Friday at the latest.
The series of shootings in the last fortnight are, as far as the police know, unrelated. They’re a statistical anomaly, which, if they continue, would boost the average number of shooting fatalities year on year. But we don’t know that yet.
I’m not accusing the media of lying. Every report I’ve seen has dutifully reported the facts, but the events of the past week have revealed a meta-level of news: the stringing together of several unrelated events to create a narrative of gun crime anarchy in the UK.
But on the flip side, although it’s a distortion of the truth, the media hype has sparked a high level debate about the UK’s gun laws. The Met Police held and emergency meeting on Thursday, and Tony Blair appeared on BBC One’s Sunday AM programme this morning talking seriously about updating gun crime laws.
And that can only be good.
Has Billy’s death come a month ago or in two months time, it would have hardly warranted an inch in page 10 of the Metro. But that’s news I guess…as someone far wiser than me said to me last week…in news you simplify and then exaggerate.