Why the Chicago Sun Times Did the Right Thing

When the shooting took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida there was an overwhelming outpour of news coming from major news publications such as NBC, CNN, ABC, and FOX NEWS. The media coverage of the events that took place after the shooting has continued on for weeks and is still continuing.

However, there was quite a bit of controversy concerning the front page of the Chicago Sun-Times just days after the Parkland shooting. A Twitter user posted a picture of the newspaper and posted it online insinuating that there was something wrong with the cover design. The cover featured a mugshot of 44-year-old Shomari Leghette an African American man and suspect in the murder of Chicago Policeman, Paul Bauer and next to the mugshot is a preview to a story on the Parkland shooting.

Hundreds of Twitter users felt outraged by the cover because the news publication chose a cover design that catered to the cop story more so than the parkland shooting story.  Many people feel that this was done deliberately to promote a negative agenda about African American criminals in comparison to those who are not of color. Yet, this is just not the case; at least not in this situation.

Let’s Segway into a mini journalism lesson.

On Tuesday, February 13 just one day before the parkland shooting, Paul Bauer, Commander of the Near North District in Chicago was shot and killed in broad daylight while civilians were scrambling in fear at the sound of gunshots. This came as a major shock to Chicago residents because not only was Bauer a highly respected member of the community, he was also the first Chicago police officer to be shot and killed since 2011 making that a total of 13 officers to be killed in the city of Chicago. 

The day after Bauer’s murder, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz walked into a Florida high school and killed 17 people. This story is impactful because this marks the 18th shooting to have taken place in 2018 and we’re only two months into the New Year. Plus, parents, teachers, and students everywhere are always directly impacted by this kind of news.

Needless to say, the Chicago Sun-Times had a bit of a conundrum here. the publication had to make a choice based on proximity and impact when it came to the cover of its print issue. News publications everywhere have to make decisions like this daily and it can be quite taxing for editors because they know how important it is to remain objective and to keep their readers in mind. When it comes to locally based publications like the Sun-Times, its first priority is to report news that would be the most impactful to the citizens of Chicago, who are directly impacted by news that takes place in their neighborhood. The Sun-Times also understood the news value of the Parkland shooting which is why they chose to include both on the cover. However, the Sun-Times featured Bauer’s murder as the major news story because the news value is substantially higher to the readers.

The larger issue here is that people are going online starting wildfires by posting seemingly controversial images and videos on purpose just to get shares, likes, retweets, and favorites. In the new world of fake news, social media has become a primary news source for many people and this opens the door for misinformed, unaccredited, and misleading information being spread far and wide. My advice to those who fall victim to these misleading posts is to question everything and trust no one. Check to see who's posting the false information and report them if possible. If you know something is not true don’t be shy about sharing this with friends and followers. Most importantly, Stay woke.