🇺🇸#NeverAgain: Aftermath of the Florida school shooting - The Listening Post (Lead)

Sometimes it's worth waiting for a story to play out and then examining what's been reported in the aftermath. The Florida school shooting, which happened three weeks ago, is one of those cases. At least 17 people were killed when a gunman opened fire on students and teachers at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. According to police, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz confessed to carrying out the shooting. He allegedly used an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.

Unlike some previous school shootings in the US, the survivors didn't shy away from the cameras - they went looking for them.

The teenagers used the plentiful airtime they got to push for tougher gun control laws. And they found themselves taking on not just politicians, but one of the most potent lobby groups around - the National Rifle Association. Their fight and the NRA's pushback, took place online.
NRATV wants more Americans to buy guns. It goes after those who stand in their way. And that, the channel would have you believe, includes the US mainstream news media.

An NRA video posted seven days after the Florida shooting didn't target politicians or activists advocating gun control. It was devoted, in its entirety, to the way the news media cover the issue.

"Well as a conservative who has spent much of my career condemning the liberal mainstream news media in this country, I think that philosophically the NRA is right to do it. Now do they overdo it [with their online campaign]? Probably so. Mainly because when you don't like the message you attack the messenger," says John Ziegler, a columnist for Mediaite.

According to Melissa Ryan, a visiting fellow at Media Matters for America, "It's in the NRA's interest to convince their user base that the mainstream media can't be trusted. Because if their users mistrust the mainstream media they're going to be more likely to listen to NRA as a source for for their news."

Unlike previous mass shootings, however, the surviving students – who through their savvy communications skills and social media accounts, drove the coverage in a way that no one at Columbine could, back in the day.

"The kids nowadays have practice in performing to wider audiences," points out Alvin Chang, reporter at Vox Media. "They are on social media constantly. They know exactly how to talk to wider audiences, exactly how to, how much they have to be informed in order to talk to wider audiences."

The students propelled themselves into a position of prominence – and landed on a national stage – a CNN town hall debate on the issue of gun control.

"Part of the students' power is that they are young, that they experienced this first hand, it gives them a moral authority and the best way to undercut that is by undermining their credibility," says writer and journalist Emily Witt.

So where does the story go from here? Probably nowhere.

It does what all school shooting stories have done.

With NRATV chipping away at the credibility of the liberal media conspiracy theorists, selling their wares in the right wing bubble and a little help from Fox News and a few others – the story just fades away.

Their social media skills and powers of persuasion served the students well, extending the story's lifespan and likely changing the template of the coverage of such tragedies in the future.

What they haven't changed is the outcome. Maybe next time.

Jaclyn Schildkraut, assistant professor of public justice, State University of New York at Oswego
Alvin Chang, reporter, Vox Media
Emily Witt, writer and journalist
Melissa Ryan, visiting fellow, Media Matters for America
John Ziegler, columnist, Mediaite

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Source: Al Jazeera English, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDY6Vowhey4
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