The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Media Nitpicking: Which tragedy is worse?

Illustration by Amy Sandoval

America. Home of the brave, land of the free, or something along those lines. Our country, while it has had many great attributions over the years, has suffered many tragedies. With the great volume of tragic occurrences though, we seem to only focus on a select few. Examples of this include the horrifying shootings at Columbine High School in late 1999 or the tumultuous destruction of the Twin Towers in 2001.

The latter is focused heavily on as it has changed the US in a multitude of ways, not for the better. Many people have become more Islamophobic, airport security has increased significantly and the attack marked the beginning of a seemingly endless war and multiple conflicts within Afghanistan and Iraq.

While events like these are extremely devastating, the few “chosen ones” overshadow the rest. No one seems to talk about, for example, the bombing of the Murrah building in 1995 by American terrorist Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh was a former army soldier who hated the American government and wanted to overthrow it. 168 people died including 19 children, according to

One year later, in 1996, a domestic terrorist named Eric Rudolph bombed Atlanta’s Centennial Park. This resulted in the death of one woman and severely injured over 100 others. This hits home for me personally as I lived not far from Atlanta at the time.

Additionally, the USA has not been short in its supply of serial killers, especially in the state of California. Not only the infamous Charles Manson and his “family”, and of course the heavily fawned over Jeffrey Dahmer from Milwaukee, but also the Zodiac Killer, the Unabomber, Son of Sam from New York and the Speed Freak Killers. Among these more well-known killers are lesser-known villains, like Loren Herzog and Wesley Shermantine, methamphetamine users who went on drug-fueled rampages murdering well over a dozen people, according to

Like the “Speed Freak Killers,” many other catastrophes are often overshadowed by what the media seems to randomly choose to run with.

Personally, I often wonder why some catastrophes cause laws and stipulations to be put into effect when others are not. For example, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 higher security measures were taken. The Department of Homeland Security was created. Transportation Security Aviation (TSA) was in full force and much more emphasis was put on international traveling, especially individuals coming from other countries, namely the Middle East.

My thoughts are, why was virtually nothing done when other tragedies took place? Where was Homeland Security in the 1970s and 1980s when multiple serial murders were happening across the U.S.? Especially the murders of young children? I am sure they could have helped the Walsh family in Florida back in 1981 when the son of America’s Most Wanted’s host was abducted and murdered at the tender age of six.

Or even the murders across California colleges in 1996 and 1998 of Kristin Smart and Rachel Newhouse, respectively. Smart was attacked by fellow college student Paul Flores who later allegedly hid her body on his family’s property. Rex Allen Krebs, who was known as the “Sadist of San Luis” was arrested for the murder of Rachel Newhouse and many other college victims.

In addition, and in an almost ironic twist, school shootings are an ever-occurring phenomenon. Almost every day there is an issue with gun violence at a school, or even in the general public. Despite the heavy media coverage of the Columbine shooting and the heavy emphasis on stopping this type of violence, nothing really has changed since 1999. Even with “zero tolerance” policies enacted in schools and anti-bullying legislatures after Columbine, violence in schools is still happening unabated.

It seemed to never make sense to me why one event triumphed over another. I never understood why the media allowed this.

The reality is, that one is not worse than the other. All of these occurrences in the US are all horrific and equally baffling.

I think that American media really needs to understand the implications of how much emphasis they put on certain topics and how much weight they bear. It’s very insensitive and disrespectful to all the victims out there for the media to simply look the other way. All victims matter, and all should be given the voice they deserve. No matter what the incident, people are still people, and whether thousands or hundreds die or are injured, people have been affected the same.

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