Poytner Fact-Checks NRA: Were Media Criticisms Valid? Yes and No


Does the media deserve blame for the massacre at Newtown, Conn.? The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre says it does: “How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame — from a national media machine that rewards them with the wall-to-wall attention and sense of identity that they crave — while provoking others to the try to make their mark?” In fact-checking that other comments, the Poynter Institute says he has a point, citing a 2011 report that concluded that more restrained reporting could diminish the potential copycat effect of high publicized crimes.

The Poynter report also scrutinized LaPierre’s contention that the media ignore violent video games, such as “Kindergarten Killer,” as a cause of real-life violence and that the media overcovers crime. He said last week, “In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes — every minute of every day of every month of every year. Poynter said that while crime indeed is a great interest of many media organizations, it occupies a small percentage of news time compared with other topics.

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