Wednesday, April 08, 2015

How fast we forget

The Wisconsin State Journal reported this afternoon that a woman had been threatened by two home invaders, one of whom pointed a gun at her head. They escaped but were caught a little later. One of the two was a 19-year old. When I "googled" him I discovered a report from January that he and a different man had been arrested as part of a burglary spree. Got out on the streets again pretty quickly, I guess. But don't ask for a link to the first story at the WSJ--it disappeared. A TV station has the recent story, and the second.

The top stories at the WSJ site this evening are stories of convictions, not crimes. We've had a little uptick in the violent crime rate the past few weeks, some of it clearly gang related. I'd like to try to connect the dots, if I can.

I remember visiting New Orleans some years back when the crime rate there was lower than it is now, and noticing the difference in reporting between Chicago and N.O. The Chicago TV allotted a couple of minutes to the highlights of about 8 murders, and the N.O. station gave 15 minutes to 3. (OK, commercials included)

It is easy to stretch out the coverage to make a few crimes seem like a lot, or have a couple of trashed buildings represent the whole tornado-hit town, or 30 marchers look like a vast parade--happens all the time. It is also easy to sweep problems under the rug. If it didn't happen on TV, it isn't quite real, no matter what your neighbor swears happened. And there's always the memory hole.

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