How, in a (theoretically) civilized society, should the media report about mass shootings? Specifically, what kind of images are acceptable to publish, particularily on newspaper front pages and magazine covers that might be seen by children?
Some news organizations simply unblinkingly showed the horror of the Las Vegas massacre--the New York Daily News, for instance, with its "American Carnage" front page on Tuesday (warning: highly graphic). Other outlets went with the default: showing tearful survivors and groups of first responders.
Time magazine, with its Oct. 16 issue, goes another route: It offers an all-type cover that simply presents a heart-wrenching list of 10 recent American mass shootings, ending with Las Vegas, followed by two words: "America's Nightmare."
Time's cover essay, "The Fight Over Gun Control Isn't Really About Guns," written by Philip Elliott with Haley Sweetland Edwards and Charlotte Alter, reads, in part,
"The challenge in bringing change is that the debate over gun rights isn't really about guns at all. It's about what they represent: cherished freedoms, a reverence for independence. The guns are a rejection of political correctness that creeps into everything. Even the most incremental move to constrain deadly weaponry seems to many Americans to cut against their rights."
Time's writers, noting that a recent poll showed 94% of voters support background checks for all gun buyers, also pose the obvious question:
"So why are measures like closing background-check loopholes and limiting high-capacity magazines not already law? It's partly because a small but intense group of gun-rights advocates oppose them. A paltry 3% of households own half of all of the guns in America, and they vote. It is they who argue most vocally that if existing gun-control laws can't stop mass shootings, why would new laws be any better?"
Read the full Time cover story here.