Letter to the editor: Journalists should ask important ‘Why’ question

Stephen Green urges the news media to stick to the facts and “leave the thinking to the public” in reporting stories such as the recent Tucson massacre. (“Intro to journalism,” Jan. 20) He is correct in observing that news and opinion have become conflated in much of the coverage of politics recently. However, he forgets (or perhaps never realized) that Why is one of the 5 Ws of news coverage. To not seek answers to the Why question in reporting a story such as this would be for the press to abdicate its responsibility to the reading public. Why did this happen? Was it a failure of the mental health system? Was it an inevitable consequence of that state’s gun culture? Was it in any way a product of overheated political rhetoric, complete with its recent violent imagery? Or were all of the above perhaps partly to blame? These are important questions to ask at a time like this, and ones that the press has a duty, not just a right, to ask. Perhaps this is a topic Mr. Green will find covered in Advanced Journalism.

Marc Edge, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Mass Communication

Sam Houston State University

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