On May 18, 1927, a farmer angered by property taxes that helped build a local school building in Bath, Michigan, murdered his wife, burned down his house, detonated over 1,000 pounds of dynamite he had placed within the school, then drove his truck up to the school and discharged another explosive killing 45 people, most of whom were children, and injuring another 58. On April 20, 1999 (72 years later), two students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, carried out a highly planned massacre involving multiple explosives and a shooting spree ending in the deaths of 14 people (including the perpetrators) and the injury of 21 more.
The Bath, Michigan, disaster drew limited media coverage lasting roughly a week and the story all but vanished from headlines. The Columbine shooting, however, remains a turning point in the perception of safety in schools. One major reason for this is the explosion of news coverage and the intense, long-lasting analyses of this and other acts of mass school violence.
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· How does the media shape society’s viewpoint of mass violence?
o What are the similarities and differences between the two school disasters with regard to the mindset of the attackers?
o Are school children safer now than they were then? Explain your answer.
o Is media overstating school violence or creating copycat events? Why, or why not?
· Does media contribute to stereotypes of crime? Explain your rationale.
· How has the explosion of social media and 24-hour news coverage impacted our perceptions of violence vs. the impact of more traditional radio and television news coverage? Provide an example.