The Guardian is a center-left newspaper out of the UK. It is also vehemently anti-gun.Their latest effort was published on Saturday as I was flying west to go east (but that's another story for another time).
Rupert Neate and his videographer Mae Ryan did a story called, "Sex, guns and ammo: inside the world's largest gun industry trade fair". It was their idea of an expose' of the SHOT Show. By chance, I happened to speak with Ms. Ryan on the first day of the SHOT Show in the Press Room. I asked if she had gone to Media/Industry Day at the Range and she replied that The Guardian wouldn't let them attend it. This was in contrast to the young videographer from CNN Money who did attend Media Day, got to shoot some firearms, and had a great time.
Neate tried to tie the growth in sales of firearms to sex, fear of gun control, and mass shootings.
As all marketeers know, sex sells – and guns are no different. Manufacturers have hired a string of professional models to pose with their latest guns. Guns.com, the daily guns blog, collated pictures of its favourite women at the show “who do their very best to highlight and promote new products, equipment and, of course, guns”. Attendees who want to see more are invited to “the sexiest ammo show after party” at the Sapphire strip joint down the strip. Free entry with Shot Show pass.He also used misleading stats such as this:
Guns are a big business, and the industry is raking in record sales and profits as people rush out to arm themselves following a series of mass shootings and out of fear of increased gun control legislation.
“People are buying guns as part of the American dream of freedom and liberty,” said Brauer, who is based at the Hull College of Business at Augusta University. “And also, the hope and the dream of being able to use guns in self-defence.”However, what took the cake is shown in the video below where Neate asks a S&W representative if the M&P 15-22 Sport (in .22 LR) is the same rifle as was used by the Islamofascists to kill 14 people in San Bernardino. This was after he violated Rule No. 1 by pointing what appears to be an air rifle with a scope at an attendee.
People very rarely get to live out that dream, with FBI data showing that gun owners are 78 times more likely to kill themselves than they are to carry out a “justifiable homicide”, which the agency describes as “the killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen”.
The Poynter Institute which has as its mission elevating journalism took Neate, Ryan, and The Guardian to task over its one-sided, misleading, and unfair story.
While the video makes for interesting viewing, in my judgment, the story isn't fair. It was theatrics masquerading as even-handed reporting. From the very beginning of the video, it was clear the journalists counted on causing a stir on the convention floor...I think Poynter hits on the head - serious subjects require serious reporting - not this anti-gun editorial that could just as well have come from Bloomberg's The Trace.
But when journalists tackle contentious issues, they have an obligation to develop expertise about the story they are reporting. They build trust with sources on all sides of the story. The more you know about a subject, the more aggressively you can pursue it.
Serious subjects require serious reporting. Not self-serving stunts.