Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Lovers' Quarrel

An early item on the murder at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Mich., described it like this:

A WWJ reporter on the scene says a male student appears to have shot a woman, then turned the gun on himself at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Mich.

WWJ reporter Pat Sweeney has information that it was a lover's quarrel in which the gunman shot his girlfriend, then himself.

Emphasis mine. Using that term appears to be very bad journalism. Was there evidence of a quarrel? Note that 'a quarrel' is not the same thing as a man walking in and killing a woman with a gun. At least to me it means something different.

I think this term, just like the term 'domestic violence', serve as shorthand for crimes in which you, the reader, are unlikely to be at risk. If a crime is between 'lovers' or domestic in nature then strangers are safe. But the corollary of this is that putting those labels on a crime makes it somehow less important to report on.