Claimsmakers – Impacting Our Society

“Claims-making is” another way of viewing the ways in which victims’ rights, concern, and issues and discussed in society.” (Topic 4:Class Lecture). Claims that are made about and issue, event, or crime

can have weight on policy changes and reform efforts. When a claim is made concerning an issues that affects are society are understanding of the issues is affected by the way the claimsmakers phrase there view of the issue. There are those individuals within our society that hold a great deal of clout and gain the creditability of the public resulting in us basing our understanding of the issue on that individuals claim. When a certain issue of victimization receives a vast amount of activity such as publications addressing solutions for the issue there is an increase in the evident threat of the problem at hand. When a claim is presented concerning a recent issue the cause of the problem can be inaccurate due to the lack of attention and evidence regarding the issue. Often a policymaker will employ the appearance of control by responding to the claim and make an inaccurate change due to the lack of factual information regarding the issue.

The Case of Victimization

Astronaut Lisa Nowak was arrested on Monday February 5, 2007 and charged with battery, attempted kidnapping, and attempted burglary of a car and destruction of evidence. Nowak posted a bond of 15,500 for the three charges against her however; the process of her release was brought to a standstill when the Orlando Police brought on attempted murder charges. Nowak, 43, is a Navy Captain is accused of approaching Colleen Shipmen, 30, an Air Force Captain in the Orlando International Airport parking lot and spraying her with pepper spray.

According to a police report regarding this incident both Shipman and Nowak were in a relation with another astronaut, Navy Commander Bill Oefelein. Nowak “told police that her relationship with Oefelein was “more than a working relationship and less than a romantic relationship.”” (CNN Article: Astronaut arrested on attempted kidnapping charges). Nowak waited for Shipman at the Orlando International Airport to confront her about the relationship Shipman had with Oefelein. Nowak attempted to get a ride from Shipman or use her cell phone. Shipmen denied the requests of Nowak and told her that she would send help instead. Nowak began crying and complained that she was unable to hear Shipman. At this point Shipman rolled the car window down a couple inches, according to police this is when Nowak sprayed pepper spray into Shipman’s car. Shipman then drove to the tollbooth at the airport and called the Orland police regarding the incident.


Colleen Shipman, 30, servers as a project engineer at the 45th Launch Support Squadron at Patrick Air force Base, and resides in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The Pittsburgh Tribute-Review reported that teacher and students remember as a good student who was involved in a Varity of school activities and clubs. Shipman placed a quote on that she was “single and loving it”, nor did her friends remember her mentioning anything about being in a relationship. In Brevard County Shipman filed a retraining order against Nowak stating that that for the past two months Nowak had been stalking her. There does not appear to be a big portrayal on Shipman in fact the media seems to be focusing their attention on Nowak life.

Lisa Nowak had received a significant amount of attention concerning her life, her career, and how those who knew her portrayed her. Nowak’s friends and family state that she was a good and caring person and this is completely out of character for Nowak bringing shock to family and friends. The media is investigating the cause of Nowak’s meltdown that caused her to victimize Shipman. Apparently Nowak and her husband who works at NASA mission control separated after 19-years of marriage. There were reports made by the AP stating that there had been signs of problems before Nowak was arrested. A neighbor called the police to the home of Nowak claims that she heard the sound of dishes being broken. I think that the media is trying to find out if her actions were associated with the pressure of her job and personal life caused psychological concerns.

The Medias’ Claims

The major claimsmakers in this case seem to be the media, whom are focusing a major part of their stories on Nowak and providing very little information on the victim Colleen Shipman. This could be due to the fact that this is a very recent incident and Shipman needs time to go through the healing process. The media is also giving attention to NASA officials and their thoughts on this event. CNN posted and article on there website addressing any lessons that NASA may have learned from this ordeal. NASA officials have stated that the psychological screening assessments will be reviewed due to the recent arrest of Lisa Nowak. The article states “the space agency will determine if there are “lesson to be learned” from the incident involving Nowak and determine if modifications need to be made, according to NASA deputy administrator Shana dale” (CNN Article: NASA wants to know if there are “lessons to be learned”).

Military spokesmen, J.B. Kump, a retired Air Force officer believes that the media is using this story for a financial gain and they are making a mountain out of a mole hill. The media is asking if NASA is not a good at screening the astronauts that they let through the system. It is unfortunate that the image of NASA will be negatively affected by this incident of victimization. The items that are said to be in the possession of Nowak when she was arrested are: a steel mallet, a buck knife with a four inch blade, a BB gun and a map to the residence of Shipman. The media are taking these items stated to be in the possession of Nowak and creating there own version of what Nowak was planning to do. These stories that are being created are affecting the public thoughts of the incident and what the real intentions that Nowak had for that day. I think that the media is missing vital parts of this incident, such as Nowak’s explanation for these items being in her vehicle, the precise relationship that was going on between these three individual. The actual facts of the incident are what seem to be continuously absent in the media’s reporting. Due to the crime being so recent the police have not had an adequate amount of time to uncover the details and facts of this crime.


This story of criminal victimization presents great examples that claimsmakers have on our societies understanding of an event. There have been claims made concerning this crime of victimization, however, the police have not had an adequate amount of time to investigate the facts of this case leading me to believe that the media has created their own version of the event and what led the actions of Nowak. The media has a considerable amount of impact on our society and we often base our views on the information that they present to us. The claims that have been made by the media concerning the pressure of Nowak’s job have created doubts of NASA’s ability of screening astronauts. Though NASA has been screening astronauts for over 50-years the media has placed doubt in the minds of some Americans in relation to the capabilities of NASA’s ability to screen out astronauts with psychological issues. I think that it would be a vital asset to the nation if there were certain stipulations set upon claims-makers, for example, providing an adequate amount of time for an investigation in which facts would be uncovered. Though a story will be presented by the media as is evolves, they should ensure they inform the public that there is a continuing investigation and not all the facts of the event have been presented.