A Johns Hopkins professor believes that journalists do “maybe too good a job” providing fair and "balanced" coverage regarding the gun debate.
Jon Vernick, a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, was recently interviewed by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. His interview was crafted into an article published Monday entitled, “6 tips for reporting on gun policy and gun violence,” in which he claims that journalists “bend over backward” to provide opposing views on the gun debate “a chance to comment.”
And by opposing views, he meant gun advocates.
“I think journalists actually do a good job already of balancing — maybe too good a job, depending on your perspective,” Vernick said, in tip number six called, “Avoid False Equivalence.”
“And so when I will do a research study and the studies get coverage, I sometimes wonder if it’s necessary to have a non-researcher from the NRA or another group respond,” he continued. “At least in my experience, journalists bend over backward to give organizations like the NRA or other gun-owning or opposition groups a chance to comment, sometimes on things that they don’t know very much about.”
He later clarified his remarks when asked by The Daily Caller to comment, saying that he does think “balance is important in all reporting,” but it “should come from an individual or group with expertise in judging the quality of that research – not simply a group that is unhappy with the finding.”
A spokeswoman from the National Rifle Association Catherine Mortensen pointed out to The Daily Caller on Tuesday that “the NRA employs PhDs and Second Amendment legal experts from some of the nation’s top universities," calling Vernick's point involving the NRA "absurd."
“For Mr. Vernick, who works for an institution that is literally bought and paid for by gun control billionaire Michael Bloomberg and who himself lacks a PhD, to question the NRA’s ability to analyze research claims is absurd,” Mortensen fired. “It’s not surprising he is advising journalists to produce one-sided reporting on the issue of gun control.”
One point that Vernick did make in the article that deserves credit is that in shooting incidents people should "focus on how the gun was acquired," not jump to conclusions, even though "that’s often the day two story."
"Because that often will teach us what policy solutions are most appropriate," he said.
If only others shared the same perspective on that. Maybe coverage wouldn't be so heavily one-sided.