The 28th annual Gun Rights Policy Conference in Houston is history, and ironically one of the final panel discussions on media bias that touched the gun control playbook revealed here came on the heels of a weekend headline in a Connecticut newspaper that resembles one of the strategies in that gun control guide.
The New Haven Register’s headline about a gun control gathering referred to a “gun violence prevention group.” On page 9 of “Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging” – the gun control guide mentioned frequently over the weekend that was exposed by this column on Aug. 1 – under the heading “Language dos and don’ts,” the guide advises “Do talk about ‘preventing gun violence’ (but) Don’t talk about ‘gun control’.”
Since that story broke, the guide has spread across the Internet and many subsequent articles have been written about it. This column did a follow-up outlining facts and where to find them.
The newspaper story included a hot link to the website for CT Against Gun Violence, which has a section on the main page of its website headlined “How the NRA Trains Supporters.” It says, “The NRA holds seminars for college students and other extremists, to learn the facts and fallacies of the gun debate, as defined by the NRA of course….” The story does not mention the existence of the gun control strategy guide that appears to be in wide use among gun control groups, and perhaps even by some newspapers.
The GRPC was sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, both based in Bellevue.
At yesterday’s GRPC, Herb Stupp, an adjunct professor with the Graduate School of Public Affairs at Baruch College (CUNY) and CEO of his own company that deals with communications and media relations, discussed various forms of media bias as part of the panel on “Countering Media Bias.”
“There are different kinds of bias,” Stupp told the audience. He offered tips on countering this bias, including directly contacting news editors. He also explained how to identify bias and counter it with factual information.
On the same panel, Don Irvine, president of Accuracy in Media, noted that while there is a liberal bias, gun owners “win on facts.” He also observed that “the liberals lose on emotion.”
Interestingly, on page 6 of the playbook, headlined Overall Messaging Guidance, Rule #1 says, “Always focus on emotional and value-driven arguments about gun violence, not the political food fight in Washington or wonky statistics.” Rule #2 advises, “Tell stories with images and feelings.”
The first paragraphs of the Register story seem to follow this strategy:
LaChristopher Pettway, 26, of Bridgeport, was shot on September 9.
Pettway’s mother, Jacqueline Pettway of Bridgeport, said he was killed while protecting children who were getting off a bus at 2 p.m. that day.
She laid her son to rest Sept.17.
“It is too late for my son, but I have a chance to save another person’s life,” Pettway said. “My focus now is to get the laws changed so my son’s death is not in vain.”
One can conclude that yesterday’s audience will be paying much closer attention to news reports and arguments from gun control groups during upcoming legislative sessions for certain buzz words, phrases and overall semantics to see how closely they follow the gun control guide uncovered two months ago.
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