So the first viral set of hashtags to light up 2016 have been about #OregonUnderAttack [armed militia who have taken over a building in rural Oregon] and spawned much speculation about the way it was covered. In fact all the early headlines made it sound like a peaceful group who just happened to break into a federal building and occupy it. See the problem? While we can debate law & order all day, reading the bulk of articles yesterday it really did seem as if there would be no coverage of it until Twitter stepped in to talk about the hypocrisy of the coverage.
This definitely recalls other events like: #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, etc… where media seems to report on peaceful protests in areas like Ferguson or Baltimore in a sensationalist way using verbiage rife with racial tropes and specious analogies. Never there to
So naturally people put their minds to it during the conversation and numerous hashtags emerged: #YallQueda, #YeeHawd, #WhiteIsis, #VanillaIsis, and a host of others. Those are just the popular ones. It is a relative laugh fest, but also this sort of calling attention to a hypocrisy is not very strategic. Sure, more coverage will come, we can all slap ourselves on the backs at the wit we employ. But in the end, the mainstream news media will continue to report on armed, seemingly terroristic, occupations of federal buildings will continue to be covered wholly differently from say the Mall of America protests, among others.
The media of late has been catching itself, but is still issuing hastily composed tweets (oft we believe to be by unseasoned interns or millennials) that really don’t appreciate the many ways it could be interpreted or those pesky headlines. Can’t remember which site recently did this, and it is such a common occurrence that it really never gets screencaptured by me. But the url revealed what the first title was, and they’d changed it after many people complained about it obviously.
In this, the generation that screencaps, it is wise to take extra caution, and vetting them better. Having as many eyes as possible, diverse eyes of the newsroom, would be a start. The visual vocabulary and the speed with which these stories make their way around now means everyone will have criticisms & jokes.