There was a lot of media in Parkland, Florida immediately after Valentine’s Day 2018. Every major media outlet had people there — everyone from the New York Times to the Associated Press to CBS and NBC.
In no time flat, a narrative was articulated in part by Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and repeated by anti-gun partisans pretending to be journalists that the real culprit wasn’t the demented maniac that his department continually refused to arrest, but the National Rifle Association (NRA). The media ran with that narrative, eviscerating the NRA and pro-gun activists by laying the blame on them.
However, one media outlet didn’t buy it and continued to dig a little deeper. Now, the father of two of the Parkland victims wants that paper to get the Pulitzer Prize.
Two Parkland parents believe the South Florida Sun-Sentinel should win a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of a school shooting that left their children dead.
“That claim may strike some readers – or journalists – as odd,” the fathers wrote.
“After all, the tragedy generated weeks if not months of wall-to-wall coverage. But that coverage focused almost exclusively on a handful of student activists in their crusade against the National Rifle Association.”
The coverage that mattered for families impacted by loss, the letter said, involved accountability and future prevention.
“This was the most avoidable mass murder in American history, enabled by a sheriff’s office and a school district characterized by administrative incompetence so staggering and moral corruption so deep that it took the Sun Sentinel the better part of the year the uncover it all,” the letter reads.
They’re absolutely correct.
While I’m not going to claim the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is a pro-gun publication by any means, even ardent anti-gunners should be eager to root out the myriad failures that transpired before the Parkland massacre. The Sun-Sentinel did just that, doing quality journalism that not only helped us understand the true story of what happened but also created an environment where Israel could be removed from office, and the sheriff’s office could be repaired. This is also pretty much the only paper that openly called for Israel’s ousting.
They delved into the story when no other mainstream media outlet would.
As such, if anyone is deserving of the top prize for journalism, it’s them.
However, let’s also not delude ourselves here. I’m inclined to believe that the paper won’t get it. Why? The narrative. The prize is administered by Columbia University, a body where the anti-gun narrative tends to be popular and given to an industry that likes the anti-gun narrative. The Sun-Sentinel‘s work, however, undermined that narrative. I’m skeptical Columbia will reward that with the highest award it can bestow.
That doesn’t mean Pollack and Petty shouldn’t bother. At the very least, calling attention to the quality journalism that took place is worthy in and of itself. One can hope it inspires others to emulate that integrity and push them to dig beneath the narrative, even when they like that narrative.