Homicide Victims are People Too

Media stories of homicide victims have encouraged more individual connections to the public versus victims seen as a death stat.

When 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton was murdered just a few blocks away from President Obama’s Chicago home just a week after performing at his inaugural events, it was a story that pulled at the public’s heartstrings as it covered the airwaves.

The story of Hadiya Pendleton is being pegged as a guide for journalists to use for future reference on how to cover homicide victims equally and fairly.

The media recognized the teen as a young and popular honor student who was full of life, well known for carrying around a gorgeous smile. A picture of innocence that displayed her as more than the 42nd homicide victim of 2012 in Chicago, but as a person that was taken away too soon to senseless crime.

Hadiya’s case gained media attention into what is usually the quantity of homicide cases compared to the quality of the individual they were as a person.

This story showcased how the media may be getting better on how murder cases are handled in a public matter when victims are not regarded as a number added to the death toll but as people. Journalists are making it their job to pick up where connections have lacked in value on relating to the humanistic side that a fatality has a name, a life, and is more than just a victim. Media outlets such as The Redeye and DNAinfo Chicago are websites that report on homicides in Chicago on a local level but relate to an issue that is national.

Journalists as well as the public need to treat all victims and families in the same way; doing so by going that extra mile to make all victims just as known and sympathized for as Hadiya Pendleton and her family. The media needs to continually grasp that all victims of violence are human and that each crime, murder or massacre is just as significant as the last.

The nature of media and the public can sometimes be subjective on homicide victims and what is selected on the image of that person. It was the “good child” image of Hadiya that garnered the media attention the way that it did, while also bringing to forefront the horrific number of homicides that Chicago faces yearly. Not all homicide victims are a teenage honor student who was heavily involved in school activities; however, that is what draws focus to cases such as this in particular. President Obama did not publicly address the other 41 homicide murders of Chicago this year, but it is that type of notable prominence involved that attracts heavy media coverage.

How did the media handle the Hadiya Pendleton murder in your perspective, were there any attention given to her story that was not given to others? Are journalists doing a good job on showcasing victims more as people rather than a stat? Are there any politics when it comes to homicide stories that gain public attention compared to others that are overlooked? Do the good and bad victims equally deserve just as much media attention?

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One Comment on “Homicide Victims are People Too”

  1. Journalists try their best to give as much truth to the readers as possible, but sometimes, they can’t fit all the information into one news story. Hadiya Pendlenton’s story was touching and the media did a great job describing how gun violence can ruin someone’s life and their families. Unfortunately, her story did get more spotlight than the others cases, but this shows that everyone at least deserves to be mentioned by the media. Even if it’s a paragraph, I agree that they should get mentioned because it adds ethics to the story. Not only that, but if a murderer gets to be talked about, I feel like a victim should get respect and be mentioned and that’s something journalists need to improve on. Politics does get in the way at times because people want to know how an issue will get resolved, but we can’t let that overpower someone’s spotlight after a tragic event. Like you stated, people are not just a statistics, we are human beings.


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