Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Randomness of Media Coverage

From the South Bend Tribune: National media seek out South Bend woman
Sandra Hochstedler, the 70-year-old woman who held an intruder at gunpoint earlier this week, is out of the hospital and making the media rounds.

On Sunday evening, as Hochstedler was hauling firewood from her garage into her home, a man reportedly came running at her from the street and chased her inside.

She grabbed her gun and dialed 911, she said, and after the man burst through her living room window she held him at gunpoint until police arrived, threatening to shoot him dead if he moved.

The story was immediately picked up by local media outlets, and soon, the national media came calling as well.

Besides Inside Edition, Hochstedler said she has been contacted by ABC News, Good Morning America, and the Fox News morning show Fox and Friends.

Although flattered, Hochstedler said she is still a bit baffled by all of the attention.

"It takes my breath away," she said her newfound celebrity, "because I'm like, 'What? How did it get national attention? What is the big deal about? Doesn't everyone try to protect their home?"
To answer Ms. Hochstedler's question, yes of course people protect their homes. All the time. But the media needs a man-bites-skunk story -- and that only if there's video involved.

A senior citizen who shoots a crook is a great angle. But one wonders how the media missed the 87-year-old who defended herself with a gun in Arkansas, the 61-year-old who defended himself with a gun in Arizona, or the 93-year-old who defended himself with a gun in Ohio, or the 80-year-old who defended himself and his family with a gun in Texas.

One wonders, why is the coverage so arbitrary?

Pro-defense people I speak with often lament that the national media seldom covers these sorts of incidents, and that perhaps, if they would, people would see a brighter side to firearms. (See John Lott's book The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You've Heard About Gun Control Is Wrong.)

I don't have an easy solution besides the obvious; that the media is largely biased towards one political persuasion, and therefore has no qualms against disguising the evidence and reporting only what they consider to be news. I consider it an injustice that one citizen's actions are treated as an exception, when it is actually very much the rule.

Kudos to you, Ms. Hochstedler. Be assured, no matter how unusual the media considers you, that you are backed by a family of thousands.

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