Daily Video

June 3, 2019

Virginia Beach and gun violence through a media literacy lens



Directions: Read the summary, watch the videos and answer the discussion questions below. You may want to turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function and read along with the transcript here. Note: If you are an educator or parent, you may want to use NewsHour’s resource via PBS’ Colorin Colorado, “How to talk with children in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting,” which includes information from a variety of organizations and for students of all ages.


Summary: As authorities continue searching for clues into Friday’s mass shooting inside the Virginia Beach Municipal Center that killed 12 people, many in the community are trying to understand what led to the rampage. NPR correspondent Sarah McCammon talks with the PBS NewsHour from Virginia Beach to discuss how residents are coping. Take a few extra minutes to read The Virginian Pilot’s story about the individual lives of the victims.

Several of the questions for this Daily News Story revolve around media literacy and how the new media covers mass shootings. What do you think the term “media literacy” means? (Break it down. What does the word “media” mean? What does the word “literacy” mean?) Here’s a definition Extra often uses from NAMLE (National Association for Media Literacy Education): “Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication…Media literacy empowers people to be critical thinkers and makers, effective communicators and active citizens.”


Discussion questions:


1) Essential question: Based on the definition above, why is it important to think critically about the news you consume when it comes to events like the Virginia Beach mass shooting? Explain your answer.


2) What points in the interview with the NPR reporter struck you as interesting or important? Explain. What difference might it make hearing from a reporter who lives in the Virginia Beach community? Were there certain questions not asked in this report that you would have liked to know more about?


3) You just saw the NewsHour’s broadcast segment from Saturday featuring the NPR reporter. Next, watch NewsHour’s Sunday coverage of the shooting (first 2-minutes of the news summary) below.

  • What did you learn about the Virginia Beach shooting from this segment? Were there specific details that caught your attention in the report? What were they?

  • How did the NewsHour cover the issue of gun violence as it relates to the shooting?

4) In general, how have you seen the news media cover gun violence in America? What types of incidents of gun violence do news organizations spend the most time on?

Share with your students: According to the Washington Post, “public mass shootings account for a tiny fraction of the country’s gun deaths,” but receive far more news coverage than “everyday” gun violence (the majority of these deaths are due to suicide, while others are cases of gang violence or domestic violence in people’s homes where individuals knew each other.)


  • Why do you think there is such a disparity in the way the news media covers gun violence?

  • Do you think this disparity is a problem? Why or why not?

  • How important is it not to normalize gun violence? How could you stop gun violence from being normalized? What other issues in society appear to have become normalized that you think should not be normalized?


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