Today, a dog killed another 2-year old child. This time in San Diego. As sad and tragic as this horrific incident is, it unfortunately stands as an example of inequitable news coverage.
California has seen two recent fatal. In one, a dog identified as a Pit Bull killed a 2 year old in northern California. Today, a dog identified as a German Shepherd killed a toddler.
Let’s take a look at how two media outlets reported the attacks.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported the “Pit Bull” attack as follows:
Owner of pitbulls that killed CA boy arrested.
It even reported on a nonfatality involving a dog identified as “Pit Bull”:
Pit bull bites 7-year-old Oakland girl in the face
The German Shepherd attack was headlined as, “Dog mauls toddler to death in Tierrasanta”
San Francisco chronicle also reported on the German shepherd story: 2-year-old mauled to death by family dog
But when a Pit Bull simply bit a girl in the face in the Oakland incident, the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned the breed in the headline: Pit Bull bites 7-year old Oakland girl in the face.
And the Concord fatality:
Step-grandfather talks about killer pit bulls
The unequal reporting makes an association between “Pit Bull” and attack or mauling but not other breeds because the other breeds generally aren’t mentioned in the headline. Unless you clicked on the story of the German shepherd, you’d have no idea what the breed was (and may have even assumed it to be a Pit Bull because that’s what people are used to seeing in headline news). The day the Oakland girl was bitten in the face by a Pit Bull, other children in the bay area were bitten by dogs not identified as Pit Bulls. It happens every day in every city in America, and yet most were not reported.
The old adage, “Dog bites man, isn’t news. Man bites dog, is news,” has taken a dark turn in today’s society. Now, it’s “Dog bites man, isn’t news. Pit Bull bites anything, it’s headline news.”