Media outlets choose to ignore important statistics



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By Bryce Lambley, July 19th, 2013
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Predictably lost in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial is the fact that in 2010 the homicide rate for 10-24 year olds in America has reached a 30-year low, according to statistics released in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This has occurred even while the numbers of firearms continues to climb over that time period, dramatically so since President Barack Obama's election.

Maybe the statistic wasn't so much lost as it was ignored because it does not further the mainstream media or the current Administration's push for greater gun control.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation recently gave credit to USA Today, a national news source that did publish the results. But such good news remains unreported by most of, if not all, the major television and cable networks.

After all, drama apparently attracts viewers and sells papers just as it divides the country on the issues that the media chooses to make the most important stories. Meanwhile positive statistics are often swept under the rug.

The CDC report mirrored those the U.S. Department of Justice released in May, which showed a 39 percent decrease in firearms-related homicides and a 69 percent decrease in non-fatal crimes involving firearms since 1993.

Unfortunately, survey results from the Pew Research Center show that most Americans are unaware that crime involving firearms is lower today than it was 20 years ago.

This is not surprising given all the doom and gloom from many of our news agencies, opportunistic politicians who refuse to waste a tragedy, and the annoying pontificating from the Hollywood crowd who makes a pretty penny off gun violence on the silver screen, yet would disarm the general citizen. Of course, this while keeping armed body guards for themselves.

Perception is reality for many, and whether fact or fiction, the media controls much of that perception.

When there was a rash of school shootings beginning with Columbine, I was teaching journalism and our students wanted to do a piece on the subject. What they found out was shocking.

Indeed there was not a rash of school shootings. Instead, such violence was actually on the decrease.

What was on the increase was the non-stop reporting and spotlighting of such incidents, which leads the public to believe gun violence was on the increase when in fact it was going the other direction.

I realize good news doesn't fit the story line of MSNBC or CNN or even PBS. But even our more trusted news sources like Fox seem to be avoiding the positives.

And those positives are many, including -- as Daniel Webster, a deputy director for the Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence, noted -- the fact that these rates decreased even in the face of tough economic times in the past decade or so, and a continued increase in consumption of violent video games.

Another bright point in the numbers is that the youth homicide rate has decreased for both genders and every ethnic group, although at a slower rate for males and blacks.

A sobering piece of the news remains: the youth murder rate was 28.8 per 100,000 for blacks, 7.9 for Hispanics, and 2.1 for whites. This statistic reveals much work is still to be done.

Instead of calling for stricter gun control and doing away with "stand your ground" and other self-defense provisions, Attorney General Eric Holder should address other issues which might be at the heart of the matter.

Unfortunately, I think we have a better chance of seeing snow this week.

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