Monday, October 17, 2011

Domestic Violence Tragedy: Surprise! Intelligent Reporting

A quiet California beach town was rocked last week by the unbelievable shooting of 8 people in a hair salon by the husband of one of the victims.  Aside from the unusually high body count, this episode of domestic violence is notable for the fact that it was reported nationally, in a Huffington Post article written by Associated Press reporters Amy Taxin and John Rogers, as straight-up DV, with intelligently gathered background information, and a profile of both the shooter and his primary target, his ex-wife.  

They even took the time to establish that the motivation for the vengeful shooting of the woman and her friends and co-workers was the accused's rage over his inability to get complete decision-making control over their child, a 7-year-old son.

Contrast this article with the typical "domestic dispute" reporting where it's all about the guy (rarely is the woman in the relationship the murderer in these stories) who is described at length by neighbors and coworkers as a great guy, a give you the shirt off his back type, who inexplicably snapped and did something no one could have predicted.  Dead spouse and children are barely mentioned.  It's all about him and the big mystery of how the violence could have happened.

WNL was particularly impressed with the time the AP team had obviously taken to interview friends, neighbors, a court-appointed psychologist, relatives on both sides, and shooter Dekraai's personal psychiatrist, who testified in the recent court hearing where Dekraii's demand to be awarded "'final decision making authority" when it came to matters involving their son's education and his medical and psychological treatment' was denied by the judge.

This is one of the rare treatments of a fatal domestic violence episode in the press where, even right after the fact, journalists made an effort to tell the whole story, dirty laundry and all, so readers aren't left thinking "a nice guy just snapped". (Continuing coverage of the story at HP.)  

Takeaway:  It happened to people just like you and me, and there is an explanation - it's called domestic violence.

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