Interesting or outrageous stories sell well. In a recent story from Plant City where a high school teacher killed a pair of bunnies, the story was needlessly hyped.
The Associated Press ran a story two days ago with the heading, “Teacher allegedly kills rabbit in front of class.”
The article begins by explaining how a teacher, Jane Bender, killed a pair of two-day old bunnies with a shovel while her students watched. Allegedly one student told investigators the agricultural science teacher even asked some of her stunned students to help bury the bunnies, but they refused.
All of the information provided in this article is true. The teacher did have to kill the bunnies. Yet, as other stories about the same incident have shown, the reporter did not explain how the bunnies’ mother recently rejected them until later on in the article. The two bunnies, both about the size of chicken eggs, were too small and young to survive on their own. When the class found the two baby rabbits, one was covered with fire ants while the other was in a water trough. Both had little to no chance of survival.
Bender has been fined $620 — $310 for each count, the sum required by civil penalties. She will have the chance to appeal the fines, and it is arguable if she deserves the fine or not, as killing bunnies is not, and should not, be taken lightly.
But in this case, the media took a “tragic” story and made it seem a lot worse and more traumatizing than it actually was. Centering on the teacher killing two bunnies and accounts of the shocked and distraught students apparently made for a better story than thruthfull reporting.