CHICAGO — Realizing that their city would see a record high number of fatalities from gun violence in 2012, Chicago residents have pooled resources to construct the Annual Death Clock. The billboard-sized mortality counter was created in response to the dearth of media coverage of Chicago’s unrelenting struggle with gun-related deaths, primarily among minority youths.
Last month, the 400th annual murder in the Windy City received a cumulative one minute and eight seconds of coverage from the mainstream media. Although the city does have gun-control legislation, Chicago remains poised to break a record in yearly loss of life from firearms.
The clock was designed as a means to put the issue at the top of the national media’s agenda. This proved to be no easy task; a meta-analysis of media coverage shows news networks to be concerned primarily with the fragile recoveries of both the American economy and Robert Pattinson/Kristen Stewart relationship.
Although it is advantageous for media groups to provoke the zeal of their audience, the Annual Death Clock represents a problem that can only be resolved through difficult conversations about the sociological roots of violence. Pollsters suggest, therefore, it would be more effective to drop the narrative and focus on making pro-gun Republicans seem sympathetic to child pornography.
Even the clock’s prominent location in Millennium Park next to the famous “Cloud Gate” statue is unlikely to help spur recognition from high-profile networks.
“We’ve received numerous calls for coverage from Chicago activist groups,” said CNN executive Ken Jautz, “but the responsibility of journalists is to nourish the perception that deadly violence among underprivileged youths in impoverished urban centers is an innate, unalterable phenomenon, not to open the door to serious discussion.”
“I told them, ‘if a white girl goes missing, give me a ring,’” continued Jautz, “that stuff tends to get pretty respectable ratings.”