The playwrights represent the influx of reporters to Laramie by flooding the stage with newspeople talking loudly and flashing lights. One newsperson says that Wyoming has just as many bigots as New York or California. Another newsperson describes Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson’s poverty growing up. Another reporter insists that hatred like what happened to Matthew Shepard occurs on a smaller scale in schools nationwide on a daily basis.
The audience is put into the Laramie residents’ shoes as they experience overwhelming noise and flashing lights from reporters on stage. The playwrights show that reporters are pushing the conversation about Matthew to become a national one as they compare Wyoming to the other states.
As the newspeople’s voices fade out, Jon Peacock reiterates that the town was not prepared for that kind of attention. Tiffany Edwards, a local reporter, calls the media who came into Laramie from elsewhere “predators” and describes how one journalist even followed the case’s judge into the bathroom to question him. Doc O’Connor talks about how, when he was interviewed by one publication, he recorded the interview himself in case anyone tried to misrepresent what he said.
Tiffany Edwards, who is a reporter herself, thinks that the journalists who came from elsewhere and flooded Laramie are “predators.” Since Tiffany also works in media, this suggests that it is not their occupation, but rather their status as outsiders, that made the national media presence so damaging for the Laramie community.
Next, the actors play out a short dialogue between the Governor of Wyoming, Jim Geringer, and a reporter. The Governor laments Matthew Shepard’s attack, but when the reporter points out that the Governor has not supported hate crime legislation in the past, Governor Geringer says he hopes people will not use the event to try to give one group “special rights over others.”
The playwrights show how Matthew’s murder not only created a conversation about homophobia in social spheres, but also drew attention to the legislation of hate crimes. As reporters confront Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer, they open discussion about LGBT rights in politics.
The floor then goes to Sergeant Hing, who describes seeing a sensationalist news story on television with the word Wyoming dripping with blood. Eileen and Gil Engen talk about their frustration with what they see as the media maligning the whole community for a crime two individuals committed. Next, Aaron McKinney’s father Bill McKinney says that he thinks the murder would not be as big of a deal if Matthew Shepard were not gay, and he thinks his son is being seen as guilty before the trial. Finally, Tiffany Edwards states that, even if the media coverage was overblown, at least it made people confront their community’s problems.
While the national media presence in Laramie is holding people accountable for homophobia, as Tiffany Edwards states and the play shows, it is clearly also frustrating and disenfranchising others. Eileen and Gil Engen, for example, feel that the media has grossly misunderstood and misrepresented their community, and because of this they seem less receptive to calls for the need to expand LGBT rights.