Providence Shooting: Where’s the Media?

If you were driving through Providence on May 5, you might have noticed how backed up the state of the traffic in the city is. I certainly did; I had to drive through it on my way to work at WPRO in East Providence. After about half an hour sitting in traffic on Route 146 and I-95, I gave up and took the Atwells Avenue exit, expecting that the highway traffic would be far worse than the traffic in the streets of the city. I was very wrong. Although a bit of the gridlock in the city was certainly due to a car crash, and a good bit can also be attributed to the never-ending Rhode Island construction, the traffic in the city was far worse than it should have been. So I decided to call my dad, telling him to tell the boss, Neil Larramore, that I wouldn’t be able to make it in on time. I told him where I was in the city, and he told me, “Oh yeah, that’s probably due to the shooting at a school in Providence.” Naturally, I was shocked. Of course, local news stations made it the top story. In the shooting, which occurred at Providence Career and Technical Academy, Central High School student William Parsons was killed, according to the Providence Journal. Providence Police report that Parsons was “an innocent bystander,” and Central High School teachers believe that he “[represented] being a Golden Knight in every respect.” The murder was senseless and only the latest in our country’s epidemic of school shootings. I expected to see some information on the shooting in some national news. I wasn’t expecting it to lead the news, but I expected it to be somewhere, whether it be CNN, Fox News, or a national news website not based out of New England. Nothing of the sort happened. So, the question has to be asked: What kind of country are we living in where a school shooting isn’t considered newsworthy by national outlets anymore? That isn’t the only question that has to be asked. For instance, William Parsons was the lone fatality in this shooting. Does that make a shooting at a school not worth letting a national audience know about? Does the fact that this shooting happened in an urban center – rather than an affluent suburb- make it less important to national news and their viewers. Is there is an inherent racial bias when it comes to school shootings and other tragedies covered in the media? I talked with LHS senior Sam Tabi about this. Tabi, who grew up in Maryland before moving to Lincoln, believes that Rhode Island doesn’t command national attention the same way other states do. “I moved here when I was fourteen,” Tabi said, “and I honestly thought nothing ever really happened here.” Tabi also stated that “It happened in the inner city, where this is not an uncommon occurrence.” However, Tabi noted “It being at a school is a little new and unusual.” School shootings have impacted pop culture, and not in a good way. One of the lines in “Backpackers” by Childish Gambino is “Something crazy and Asian, Virginia Tech.” In DRAM’s song “Broccoli,” he mentions “Touch my gang, we gon’ turn this s*** [into] Columbine.” The epidemic of school shootings has sadly continued into the 2018-19 school year. And sadly, the first victim of the year was killed less than fifteen short minutes away from Lincoln High School. It’s a sad and shocking thing that this isn’t considered nationally relevant news by major organizations, and it raises many questions. The killing of any student is sad and senseless, and we can sit around and wish that we lived in a country where William Parson’s death is national news. Sadly, that’s not the world we live in today. Let’s hope we can create that kind of world in the future.