The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

A line in the sand for accuracy

Illustration by by Mary Sand

Sometimes I hate the industry I’ve chosen to study.

As a journalism student, I have been quite disturbed about how the events surrounding the death of 25-year-old City College student Roman Gonzalez have been covered by traditional media outlets during the past two weeks.

Within hours of the campus shooting that occurred Sept. 3, news coverage spread nationally with very little information outside of specific elements involved: use of firearms on an American school campus and a college student’s death.

Understanding the nature of the current media landscape that allows instant access to information of varying quality on a variety of platforms, I am sympathetic to the modern journalist’s need to report as quickly as possible for a digital audience.

When prominent news organizations run click-bait headlines such as: “Manhunt for Active Shooter near Sacramento City College,” despite the inaccuracies of the reporting, it’s easy to see why the rest of the nation would tune in.

Yet what utterly disgusts me is that when actual journalism occurs, with facts and concrete sources, a news value judgment is made by those news organizations, probably distracted by tallying up their page-views, to not follow up on their questionable reporting.

Worst of all, rather than correcting their initial inaccuracies, they choose to go dark.

When details of the victims involved were released and the lurid history of the victim was brought into the spotlight, there was a sea change in media coverage. Rather than the possible national tragedy it was first reported as, the shooting became an “isolated” incident that just happened to occur on a school campus.

Watching this story unfold in real time, I was compelled to email the following question to my faculty advisers the Saturday after the shooting:
“I know we are not even 72 hours out from the day of the incident and are heading into a holiday weekend, but seriously, am I really witnessing a collective ‘sigh’ in the media that this incident was your typical gang violence rather than a nut-job gunning down his peers and posting videos on the Internet?”

And even my own faults as a journalist are highlighted in this statement.

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Many of my friends and family question my choice of major because of the perception that print journalism is dying. I tell them they’re wrong: responsible journalism is dying.

This first Express issue of this semester is our attempt at industry triage.

I can’t speak highly enough the effort and quality of reporting produced by this semester’s Express staff when putting this issue together.

News Editor Vienna Montague was on campus during the lockdown and reported throughout the entire crisis.

Since the very moment the news of the shooting began to spread, Editor in Chief of, Kristopher Hooks, monitored every resource at his disposal from his computer and wrote and directed the online Express and social media feeds at a professional level.

The images provided by our staff photographers over the last two weeks have been exemplary.

The transparency and access provided by representatives of City College and the Los Rios Community College District to the Express staff is unprecedented and highly commendable.Yet our work is not yet finished.

By current accounts, Roman Gonzalez and Rico Ridgeway were exactly where they were supposed to be that Thursday afternoon: attending classes on campus.

Until the ongoing investigation reveals otherwise, I assume those two men were on campus for the same reasons I am: to get an education to better ourselves.

The issue currently in your hand is our account of what happened. I apologize in advance to any future employers that the following information is based on actual reporting and photography, previously known as journalism.

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