The front page of today’s New York Daily News is a familiar sight to those who track the tendencies of tabloid wood.
Below a blood-spattered handgun, the words “America’s full of it” appear in large type. Above that, the Daily News counts the dead since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
“Since Newtown, 84,523 people have been killed by guns in the U.S,” the page reads. “We cry. We get angry. We demand action. Then we forget…until the next time”:
The front exemplifies what has become a typical response for the Daily News in the wake of high-profile shootings. Within days of the massacre at Sandy Hook, the tabloid prominently featured President Obama’s pledge to pass legislation curbing gun violence:
When the bill foundered in the legislature the next year, the Daily News again used its front page to hammer home a message of discontent. The cover gained prominence in April 2013 when Sen. Dianne Feinstein used it on the Senate floor to argue in favor of gun control:
After the bill’s momentum stalled in the Senate the next day, the Daily News responded with another front page, this one hurling an insult directly at lawmakers.
When news of the Washington Navy Yard shooting broke months after, the Daily News again underscored an sense of frustration about gun violence, this time with the headline: “Same gun, different slay.” The page inaccurately claimed that an AR-15 was used in the shooting, an error flagged by the FBI at a press conference.
The Daily News’ history of taking strong front-page stands for gun control might shed some light on the tabloid’s decision to run controversial images from a first-person video of the murder of two journalists earlier this week. The page was alternatively condemned and praised by journalists who either thought the page was too gratuitous or defiantly laid bare the horrors of gun violence.
The Daily News seemed to implicitly endorse that last sentiment by republishing an article from Paste Magazine this morning that championed the Daily News’ decision to publish the images. The column, written by Shane Ryan, argued that bearing witness to the intimate details of the murders might move readers to act:
“Why am I glad that the images of Parker facing down the barrel of a gun made the front page?” Ryan wrote. “Because, sensational journalism aside, actually watching the sickening footage of a terrified young woman being murdered by a psychopath may actually get a point across. Maybe it will stop the willful ignorance, and the ridiculous cycle of superficial recovery that ends with finding hope and meaning in something that is both hopeless and meaningless.”
The graphic shooting has revived discussions about gun violence in America, but if experience — and the above front pages — are any guide, gun control advocates are at the foot an uphill battle.