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Media and Guns
Kurt Amesbury, J.D. -- Gun owners don't much appreciate the bias of the press on gun issues. In the vast majority of stories, media types get the numbers wrong, demonstrate gun ignorance or only tell one side of the story. How much of this is willful distortion of facts to advance an agenda is debatable, but it is to the advantage of everyone who favors truth to ensure that the media knows about guns. An uninformed reporter who refers to an M-1 Garrand as "an assault rifle" may be simply ignorant. But when an informed reporter makes the same mistake, it is patently obvious to all that negligent ignorance or even intentional deception has caused the error.

So how do we hold reporters to a higher standard?

There's a simple three-step process that can help put your local media on the right track.

  1. Look up the media resources in your area.
  2. Send email expressing your concern over media inaccuracies about guns. Keep it short, friendly and direct.
  3. Reference (and provide a link for) the Arizona Star article on how the Star is revising its gun coverage. This will give the media sources a short guide to some things they can do to improve the accuracy of their coverage.

That's easy, isn't it?

There is actually a 4th step. Keep your eyes and ears open for any incorrect coverage in the media. When you hear or see it, use the media resource lookup to call the manager and ask why the news report contained false information and which of the steps to improve accuracy which are suggested by the Star article have been adopted by the media source. It might help to have a copy of the Star article in front of you so you can run them off one at a time. Here is the list of actions the Star chose to pursue:

  1. Develop a formal course in firearm basics. Crime and court reporters, photographers, copy editors, team leaders and others in the newsroom who wish to participate will get a hands-on introduction to firearms, proper terminology and major laws involving guns.
  2. Analyze content to identify bias. Undertake an in-depth review of hundreds of articles published in the past three years that mention firearms, with a view toward identifying bias and finding ways to prevent it in the future.
  3. Revise publication and style guidelines. A senior editor and a copy editor have been assigned to review our use of firearms terminology in news stories, to make necessary revisions and to establish new style guidelines where none exist.
  4. Create an expert-source directory. A directory of firearms experts is being developed and will be added to our electronic resources file for use by reporters.
  5. Increase outdoor sports coverage. The staff is exploring ways to provide more stories about recreational activities including the shooting sports.

Every time you hear a significant error or omission, it's time to call again.

Every time.

Offer to send them a copy of the recently published Gun Facts. And tell your friends about this strategy so they can participate.

If the errors are particularly egregious, you may wish to record them and make a formal complaint for entry into the station station's public file. (Here's a short description of that process.)

A Bit of Proof about Media Bias Against Guns