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seawulf575's avatar

If the media did not report on the next mass shooting, would it help?

Asked by seawulf575 (16844points) June 6th, 2022

There are several aspects to this question:

It is possible that many of those that do mass shooting do it for the fame If that is a driver, would it help if the media just did not report on the next mass shooting? Could or should Congress pass a law to try it? And if they all agreed, which would be the first outlet to renege?

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25 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

Here’s an interesting take on that question from a couple of professors who study mass shootings.

seawulf575's avatar

@Jeruba I like it. Thank you for the link.

Entropy's avatar

I definitely did read a study awhile back that claimed that alot of these kids are the kids who would have been suicide risks back when I was growing up, but that the fame afforded to mass shooters has drawn some of them to do this instead. The study definitely spoke to me because this was a theory I kind of had on my own, and the author of the study went back and studied just about every major spree shooting of the last 30 years as part of the study.

Now, what do we DO with that information. I am 1000% opposed to passing a law abridging our freedom of speech to correct that is a TEENY TINY FRACTION of total gun violence which itself is a small sliver of total violent crime. It’s the same reason I’m opposed to major gun control in the wake of these incidents. You don’t punish an innocent majority for the actions of a tiny minority.

But I do think the government could use it’s bully pulpit effect and approach the media outlets and say “Hey, we think these kids are doing this, at least in part, for notoriety. Report on the incident, tell people the basics of what happened, but let’s try, for about a decade or so, to not give the shooter’s name or any identifying details on things like TV reports. It won’t be hidden, so researchers and others can still get it, but someone would have to go through the effort of seeking it out…which most people won’t. Let’s also not sensationalize the events.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, if you get a bunch of the big media editorial groups together at once, that many of them probably WOULD be willing to do this, as long as none of the others among the major players broke the pact. Sure, there would always be a small player breaking the deal, but the kids ten years from now won’t know that.

Then, after you do this for awhile…see if it seems like fewer of these happen in a decade or two. If the media companies won’t bite…c’est la vie. Censorship is the greater of the two evils, so I’m not willing to go there. But a voluntary ‘standards and practices’ kind of approach MIGHT work.

rebbel's avatar

The media is there to bring news.
It’s what they do.
What would (possibly) help is not naming the shooter, if you’d want to take away their fifteen minutes of ‘fame’.
A suggestion I want to do to the senators, and rather all law/policy makers is to visit some countries where there are less/no school shootings, and ask what they do to prevent them.
All different kind of countries, with and without armed civilians, and easy to aquire guns.

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seawulf575's avatar

@Entropy So yes, it might help. No, Congress should not pass a law since it is too much of an overreach of their power. And you believe that most of the big players would be willing to do this providing there was some pact they would all agree to. Good Answer.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

I have been saying don’t identify the shooter for years.

Demosthenes's avatar

There was a discussion on a podcast I was listening to about this, saying that part of the reason the Uvalde shooter might have gone after an elementary school was the notoriety it brings, and indeed, even with the Buffalo shooter’s racist manifesto and politically-motivated shooting, Uvalde has drawn far more media attention. Whether it’s notoriety in death or notoriety while serving life in prison, it’s a factor.

seawulf575's avatar

@Blackwater_Park I knew several people involved with the Chardon Ohio school shooting. Most of the parents asked the media to not name the shooter…don’t give him the fame. As a result it is not a school shooting that most people remember. They did eventually release the shooters name, but not in the immediate follow up of the event.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

It takes the power and some of the motivation away from any future would-be shooters. @Jeruba‘s link was spot on. These are really mostly suicides.

JLoon's avatar

You mean cover it up?

Make the victims invisible?

Hide information that the community has a right to know, so that they can improve public safety?

Give politicians and public officials cover, so they can avoid responsibilty?

Help the gun lobby save face?

Fucking brilliant, everyone.

You make me so proud to be American.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Missed the ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ @JLoon

JLeslie's avatar

Just about a week ago I said the media needs to start reporting ALL mass shootings in America daily across the national news channels. Americans need to really take in how many mass shootings are happening.

Each individual shooter will not get lots of attention, because he (usually he) will barely be mentioned for more than a day, he will be replaced by the next mass shooting news story very quickly.

It’s not real unless the news or social media is reporting it.

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LostInParadise's avatar

The names of the mass shooters are much less prominent in the news stories than they used to be. I read that this is being done deliberately to discourage would-be shooters looking to get their 15 minutes of fame.

seawulf575's avatar

@JLoon I mentioned the Chardon HS shooting. The families did not want to give the POS shooter the fame. They ASKED for it to be suppressed. The families knew. The community knew. But it wasn’t politicized and broadcast 24/7 to give the shooter the notoriety he was seeking. Unless you are saying you enjoy politicizing tragedy?

JLeslie's avatar

Keeping the shooters name out of most of the news coverage seems like a good idea. I think it depends what is motivating the shooter. If it’s pure rage I don’t think it matters to them if they become famous. They are absorbed in revenge or hate. If it’s fear, or they believe they are doing good for a cause, then they might care more about completing the mission than their own name.

@Demosthenes Children being hurt always get more coverage. Even with covid the more liberal news media tried to dwell on the deaths of children to move people to wear masks, stay home, and to get vaccinated, it didn’t work as well as they hoped from what I can tell.

Everyone can identify with their children being unsafe or harmed. Not everyone identifies with a mass shooting at a Black church, synagogue, or Asian run salon. Among the deaths in Uvalde there is a photo of one girl who looks white not Hispanic, she might actually be Hispanic I have no idea, and I’m guessing that photo touches some people more than the other photos, that it could have been their own child.

Usually, after mass shootings at schools Republican areas don’t become outspoken about changing gun laws and Democratic areas do. That’s how it seems to me. This last school shooting seems to be moving more people and politicians on the Republican side. We’ll see what happens.

zenvelo's avatar

Don’t identify the shooters. But show the carnage on a variety of media. Instead of showing flowers and crosses and teddy bears, show what happens to a 8 year old executed in his classroom, the wounds ona heroic GirlScout who strived to protect her classmates.

People need to see what inaction on controlling gun violence causes.

kritiper's avatar

I believe it would help.

flutherother's avatar

The media shouldn’t report on mass shootings, or wars, or global warming or pollution or anything bad. If the media reported only good news how much better the world would be. Pass me those rose-tinted spectacles.

seawulf575's avatar

@flutherother If the reporting is a contributor to the crimes, do you still believe it is looking at the issue with rose-tinted spectacles?

flutherother's avatar

@seawulf575 I’m not sure I understand you, but reporting facts is not the same as looking through rose tinted glasses. Reporting the facts gives you a chance to improve, whereas covering the facts up doesn’t.

seawulf575's avatar

@flutherother @Jeruba and I both gave citations that show that many of these shooters have a commonality…they want the attention. They see someone getting fame (or infamy) and they think they want that. Even if it is to commit suicide, they will leave their mark on society and people will finally talk about them. Both articles showed how the press coverage played into the next shooting, as it were.

On the whole I am 100% with you that the media should report facts. But in this case it doesn’t give you the chance to improve, it actually contributes to the problem. Not reporting at all other than locally for a few of these might help break the cycle. That doesn’t mean to ignore the shooting or write it off or anything like that. It means take the facts and deal with them appropriately but not sensationalizing the shooter.

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