Two young college kids were found dead in Hicks Park on Sept. 19. Wait, you already know that. The apparently robbery-motivated homicides of Carissa Horton, 18, and Ethan Nichols, 21, shocked the city and were subsequently reported endlessly throughout the week.
The Tulsa World alone ran seven stories on the two Christian kids who were "ambushed" and "executed" according to the paper.
Though Tulsa's homicide rate is slightly lower than 2010's numbers, T-Towners suddenly expressed more fear for their safety.
By mid-week, KRMG asked its listeners to text in a response to an informal and loaded poll question to the effect of, "Do you feel less safe now?"
Listeners responded via text message. Sixty-four percent of KRMG's listeners said they felt less safe.
The talk radio station has posted four stories online and 11 photos, including six pictures of a suspect's car.
Fox 23 ran five stories about the murders last week, and also asked its viewers to answer a poll question about their fear of crime. Ninety-four percent said they felt less safe.
News on 6 posted the most stories of the major outlets, with 11 articles about the Hicks Park murders.
In late spring, KRMG reported on two sets of homicides, dubbing it a "bloody week in Tulsa" after "two public displays of violence, both ending with deaths."
"With violent crime taking the entire week's headlines, KRMG wondered if Tulsans were heading for their frady holes," a June 3 piece began.
The radio station asked Tulsans if they felt safe. One young woman told the station, "Honestly, now I don't. I did but there are so many killings and so many things going on, it doesn't seem safe."
So far this year, Tulsa's murder rate is lower than last year's, according to the Tulsa Police Department.
Violent and property crime in the U.S. declined in 2010 from the previous year, according to FBI Uniform Crime Report data. The report showed a 5.5 percent decrease in the number of reported violent crimes when compared with data from 2009.
Murder declined 4.4 percent.
On Jan. 26, the World's longtime police reporter (now a Scene section writer) Nicole Marshall reported that major crime in Tulsa has decreased by 6.7 percent.
But comments posted to the website were skeptical. One commenter wrote, "Crime stats drop? That's hilarious."
Another wrote, "Just reading the [World], watching Tulsa news and Tulsa radio stations the past year or two you would have to be blind, deaf and dumb not to realize all the crimes being committed here in Tulsa."
The commenter is picking up on the trend in the press to heavily cover crime and homicide. Crime, the more salacious or egregious the better, gets a lot of time in the media.
Crime reporting dates back to the early 1800s. Salacious and steamy stories of wrongdoing were popular throughout newspapers' heyday.
When Joseph Pulitzer became publisher of the New York World, he reportedly told his staff writers to focus on "what is original, distinctive, dramatic, romantic, thrilling, unique, curious, quaint, humorous, odd and apt to be talked about."
Throughout the week of Sept. 19, the Hicks Park murders were given 26 stories by four of Tulsa's major news outlets. The Pulitzer tradition is alive and well.
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