The facts speak for themselves.
Gunfire. A soldier dead. A carjacking. More gunfire. A shooter dead.
There isn't any need to intensify these facts with adjectives such as horror, terror or siege. Those words seem to be the go-to ones some journalists use when trying to cover breaking news.
But the world is already a scary enough place.
It's a bit "old" news now, but last week a man touting a rifle shot and killed an honour-guard soldier at Canada's main War Memorial. The shooter then made his way into the heart of Ottawa's government buildings where he was shot and killed by security on Parliament Hill.
"Canada will not be intimidated."
At the time of writing this, there hasn't been any real indication as to the motive behind the shooting. What police are saying though is that the man acted alone. The shooting comes at a very touchy time, when many Western nations involved in weakening Islamic extremists are worried about violence on their own soil.
Just hours after the attack, the Prime Minister announced that "Canada will never be intimidated." Other countries including the US and Australia echoed the sentiments that there needs to be a unified front against similar attacks on both domestic and foreign soil.
Whether this lone-gunman intended to or not, his fatal actions fall in line with some of what many nations agree on as being an act of terrorism. Most criminal codes state that one of the purposes and outcomes of terrorism is "intimidating the public."
Are we asking to be intimidated?
I'll say it again, the world is already scary enough. There are wars, and rumours of wars. There are diseases. Famine.Natural disasters. We don't really need to add anything to it.
Sure, news broadcasts don't use violence. But the very broadcasters that are meant to inform us regularly intimidate us. Fear is fueled by the never ending flow of images, video, talking-heads and headlines that flood our screens, papers and airwaves. Sensationalism sells. Feeding that anxiety usually means ad dollars.
I remember a former co-worker who would tell us writers to "amp up" the headlines of the newscast. Translation: make it sound scary and urgent so people will want to watch.
Earlier this month, a news anchor in America spent a segment demystifying the Ebola virus on US soil. He basically blasted his colleagues for creating a culture of fear out of something that isn't actually infecting the general population. I watched the five minute segment thinking: "boring."
Yet, the Canadian public broadcaster and its main anchor are being applauded for their clear, calm and un-sensational coverage of the Ottawa attack.
Singer-songwriter Jack Johnson echoes this polarization in one of his songs: do we want information or do we want gripping, flashy broadcasts. In the song "Cookie Jar" Johnson tracks society's reaction following a shooting. Who's to blame? Is it the shooter? Is it parents? Is it media? In the end, Johnson concludes we're all to blame:
It was you / it was me / it was every man
We've all got the blood on our hands
We only receive what we demand.
Lisa Goetze is a 30-something-woman endeavouring to love Jesus and love people with reckless abandon. She's a former Canadian journalist who now calls Brisbane home. She's a full-time volunteer at Youth With A Mission.
Lisa Goetze's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/lisa-goetze.html