Why does the media portray mass shooters as mostly white men?

Even if the media had some “PC” inclinations (or whatever), does the OP really think that this would override their financial and profit-seeking motivation? That doesn’t sound credible. They put out the stories they think will best help their bottom line, broadly speaking. Ideological/rage-based mass shootings are bigger news than street-crime shootings, because they’re scarier, and fear sells papers/gets viewers/clicks.

I’m wondering about the point myself. I would certainly reject any notion of media conspiracy or “political correctness” that suppresses information.

In addition to what’s already been said about definitions of “mass shooting” and so on, I think the operative factors here are simply these. First, there are such an enormous number of multiple-fatality gun homicides in the US that the media tends to report only the most sensational ones, and the perps in those have tended to primarily be white. In fact, even the sensational mass shootings often get fairly minimal coverage, like “ho-hum, another mass shooting, another day in America”. So everyday shootings in poor black neighborhoods, whether gang-related or not, are not even going to make it to any significant level of coverage at all.

Secondly, your conjecture about “lack of concern for black victims” is not really quite on point. The relative disregard for gun violence in poor black neighborhoods is probably well described by this quote from the article: “People think, ‘That’s not my world. That’s not going to happen to me’.” I think it would be much the same if the poor neighborhoods were white, too. It’s not a black vs. white issue as much as it is an issue of two different worlds defined by economic strata.

I’m not claiming that racism doesn’t exist, because it clearly does. I just don’t think it’s any kind of factor at all in how mass shootings are being reported.

As other people have pointed out, it’s all in how you define “mass shooter”. The key is right there in the OP’s quoted article:

Crime and gang activity are not what most people think of in the context of “mass shooting”, although if you’re defining that concept by the criterion “shootings with four or more casualties”, then of course they count. Same for escalating arguments and domestic violence.

But what most people think of as a “mass shooting” is a terroristic-type incident where a shooter deliberately and with premeditation slaughters as many random people (frequently complete strangers) as possible, frequently to emphasize some kind of supposed ideological point.

And that particular kind of mass shooting, at least in the US, is indeed dominated by white male perpetrators. And it’s also the kind that gets the most public attention, because people are not particularly shocked at bloodshed within criminal organizations or gangs, but are extremely shocked by the relatively quite rare occurrence of large numbers of unconnected innocent victims getting mowed down in cold blood by a killer with some kind of general grudge against the world.

I’m surprised the OP wasn’t already aware of that, tbh.

falls off of turnip truck
Oh, I see what you’re trying to say here. If you could have stated it a bit more deliberately in the OP you could have saved this naive rube a lot of head scratching.

You have to start with a definition of “mass shooting” . The NYT article acknowledges that the shootings they looked at did not fit the common definition of “mass shooting” even in term of the number of deaths.

Even using the NYT definition, there’s room for quibbling over what the definition should include- suppose someone shoots up the BBQ but only hits three people. It doesn’t count under the NYT definition, just like the shooting where four people are injured but only one dies doesn’t fit under the other definitions.

If you’re doing research in an attempt to find solutions, you want to break things down into categories that make sense. You can’t necessarily treat all shootings that leave four people or more people dead the same way because they didn’t all have the same reasons and won’t all have the same solutions - IOW , the steps you take to prevent someone from shooting up a car over a parking spot are not necessarily the same steps you take to keep someone from shooting and killing his family which are not necessarily the same steps you take to keep rival gang members from from shooting at each other and hitting other people in the crossfire which are not necessarily the same steps to keep someone from shooting up a school or a concert venue full of people who have nothing specifically to do with the shooter’s grievances. And once the researchers have come up with definitions, that what the media are going to use. There’s nothing to prevent he media from doing their own analysis and using a different definition just as the NYT did here, but they usually don’t.

Oh and journalists need to do a better job of explaining to readers. ( or maybe they reporters don’t fully understand themselves). I have read hundreds of times that mass shooters are predominantly white ( true if predominantly means more than half) and that most mass shooters are white (also true) But somehow, when people read that, it turns into 'almost always white" (which is not true) and the articles almost never mention that whites are not over-represented as the perpetrators of mass-shooting. If 70% of mass shooters are white, and 70% of the population is white, that’s not disproportionate.

True, but IIRC the sort of statements I tend to see are to the effect that mass shooters are disproportionately white males. Since almost all mass shooters are men and less than half the population is men, such statements are technically true.

If said Klansman were pissed off at Cletus because Cletus stole his girl, so he sprayed a gun through Cletus’s doublewide, or if said Klansman were robbing Joe’s meth lab and wounded a handful of guys working there, or if said Klansman were getting revenge on Billy’s whole family because Billy’s nephew killed the Klansman’s right-hand man, then fuck no I wouldn’t treat it as a mass shooting.

But if said Klansman went to a black church and murdered nine churchgoers because he hated black people, of course I’d count it, just as I’d count it if a New Black Panther guy went to a white church and did the same thing.

It beggars the imagination that you’re not seeing the difference between what’s typically called a “mass shooting” and the “four or more casualties” definition used in the NYT article.

o wait.

It’s super-interesting how you changed the claim made by the NYT article to one explicitly not made, but left that out of your snippets.

Good points, doreen.

But Andy, you are ignoring that the article clearly stated that most of these shootings are not connected with any kind of underlying crime. It’s being angry over a rival gang playing basketball on their turf, or a stupid argument that escalates to deadly violence.

So you believe that these shootings are more related to ideology rather than criminal enterprises?

The difference in gang violence and mass shootings is that the gang violence is a group of people killing other people, while a mass shooting is one (or a really small number) of people killing as many people as they can. Even if only a few people in the gang do the shooting, they are doing it on behalf of the gang, and their intended targets are people of another gang.

A mass shooter shoots the general masses. They go to a highly populated place and try to kill as many people as they can. Not because they have some problem with those people in particular. The point of the mass shooting is to terrorize the masses.

The victims of gang violence are mostly gang members–i.e. people the public doesn’t give a shit about. They may even be happy they are dead. The victims of a mass shooting are predominantly innocent people.

So not only are they different situations, one is more interesting to the public than the other, and so one sells newspapers while the other doesn’t. Or, to be less cynical, one actually affects the general public more, and thus more people want to know about it.

How is turf war “not connected” to underlying crime? Today they’re playing basketball, tomorrow they’re selling on your corner - they need to be put in their place now. Do you not *grok *how gangs work?

Media is plural: “Why do the media…”

Mass shooter is a vague concept. See the wikipedia entry for “spree killer” for examples of definitional plurality.

From the wikipedia entry on serial killers:

‘In a 2005 article Anthony Walsh, professor of criminal justice at Boise State University, argued a review of post-WWII serial killings in America finds that the prevalence of minority serial killers has typically been drastically underestimated in both professional research literature and the mass media. As a paradigmatic case of this media double standard, Walsh cites news reporting on white killer Gary Heidnik and African-American killer Harrison Graham. Both men were residents of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; both imprisoned, tortured, and killed several women; and both were arrested only months apart in 1987. “Heidnik received widespread national attention, became the subject of books and television shows, and served as a model for the fictitious Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs”, writes Walsh, while “Graham received virtually no media attention outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, despite having been convicted of four more murders than Heidnik”.’

Turf wars are always related to criminal activity. Are you really unaware of this? Do you think the “turf” being fought over is not about selling drugs or other criminal money-making activity? And “stupid arguments” that escalate are also likely to be related to gang rivalry and similar phenomena, and further, aren’t anything new in terms of frequency. Rage/ideological shootings are something new, in terms of being frequent. They’re less understandable, and thus scarier.

What part of this doesn’t make sense to you?

While the OP does a perfectly terrible job of laying out any problem, both misrepresenting its cite and then poisoning the well, there is an actual problem hinted at here. Okay, an actual problem EXPLICITLY DESCRIBED by the cite.

The problem is that mass shootings suck all the oxygen out of the conversation about gun violence. They’re horrifyingly common, but other sorts of gun violence are even more horrifyingly common. And the other sort tends to affect people of color disproportionately; and when we’re talking about gun violence, we need to be sure we’re not leaving out conversations about this other kind of violence.

Andy, Dibble, pay attention. I am going to remind you of a couple excerpts I already posted and add one I left out earlier:

So what you are trying to claim is sooo obvious is actually diametrically opposed to the narrative these three New York Times writers are presenting, with the assistance of an Ivy league criminologist. :dubious:

This doesn’t dispute anything I said. Normally, if you want to say that someone is wrong, you’ll quote the part of their post you think is wrong. What part of what I have said do you believe is incorrect?

TNC has talked extensively about the inner-city culture he grew up in, which developed as a way to survive in extremely difficult and even desperate conditions, in which things like “respect” and having a tough image were vital to survival. That meant being willing and ready to engage in physical violence against any perceived threats to image, respect, and honor, at any time, to avoid being seen as a “punk” or other undesirable type, since to be identified as such was to invite further violence and victimization. That is nothing new (and such conditions are closely linked to honor-based cultures around the world), and is indirectly related to lots of street crime, as well as being a demonstration of the toxicity of the conditions that poor areas are forced into due to institutional discrimination (which is a whole 'nother thread, and one that has been extensively debated in various ways on this board).

Not gonna bite. It’s clear from what I posted that you are reading strongly against the grain of the article and spinning furiously. Unless these reporters and experts are lying to us, it’s pretty clear that most of these killings are over petty bullshit. And the people engaging in this violence are so uncaring they make no effort to avoid spraying bullets into innocent bystanders, including children.

None of this actually addresses anything I’ve said (though I can’t understand your third sentence). You don’t appear to be trying to engage in actual debate and discussion here. What have I said that you disagree with? How am I supposed to respond if you won’t say what you think I’ve said that’s incorrect?

You asked a question in the OP and I’m attempting to answer it.

Using voice to text, didn’t catch that flub until a minute later. Edited now.