Resident eyewitnesses say that the cavalcade of news segments, articles, and op-eds left hundreds of students upset and thousands more utterly disillusioned with the state of contemporary American media.
“It all happened so fast,” said UCSB junior Sarah Bowman as she held her sobbing roommate, who had just finished reading a traumatizing Los Angeles Times article. “I didn’t know what to do, I was so scared.”
Added Bowman, “When will these overwrought news pieces stop tormenting our town?”
Within fifteen minutes of the first reported Internet article, UCSB Alerts sent out a school-wide email telling students to stay indoors, inform their loved ones of their safety, and avoid all online media outlets until further notice. The Isla Vista Foot Patrol and Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department monitored the streets for any suspicious news crews or online journalists that might further exacerbate the situation. After approximately three hours of searching, both bodies of law enforcement declared the area safe.
Many have already compared this media frenzy to the last tragic onslaught of poorly executed journalism, which hit Isla Vista in May of 2014 and left the town devastated for weeks. What many have already dubbed the “2014 Isla Vista Media Massacre” caused dozens of irrational editorial pieces, hours of uninformed debate on mental health and gun control, and no fewer than two 60 Minutes specials.
UCSB External Vice President of Local Affairs Cameron Schunk, who helms the grassroots organization Students for a Safer Isla Vista, has already organized a community healing event which will take place in the Associated Students Pardall Center. A longtime advocate for reformation in Isla Vista, Schunk believes the comparisons between Monday’s tragedy and the 2014 media frenzy are unfounded.
“We’re still healing as a community, and we don’t need to be reminded of last year’s horrific news cycle,” said Schunk. “Besides, the two incidents are nothing alike. The 2014 tragedy was a premeditated attack on our community by a deranged and out-of-control American media landscape. Monday’s events were just a random act of senseless, thuggish journalism.”
At press time, students had already begun leaving their homes and resuming their normal routines, determined to move on from yet another freak seizure by the fourth estate.