- Who did it?
It’s human nature. We want answers to help us make sense of the senseless. Numbed by the unfolding details of the slaughter, we sit in front of our TVs listening to reporters speculate about the killer’s motives, or we turn to social media, looking for clues, sharing updates.
Media alerts flash on our smartphones, such as these this morning from The New York Times:
“The Florida shooting suspect has been charged with 17 counts of murder.”
“He bought his gun legally.”
“The truth about the Florida school shooting.”
Our frustration grows as we learn there were warning signs. It bubbles over as the gun-control debate erupts again — with seemingly no answers.
And for many mental health and crime experts — when these shootings happen again and again and again — they worry about whether the killer-focused coverage is inspiring other disturbed people.
The No Notoriety movement has challenged the media to focus attention on the victims, their families and the heroes. Don’t give the killers the notoriety they seek.
— Karen James (@kejames) February 15, 2018
Yes. More articles like this about the heroes and the victims. Thank you for not mentioning the killer’s name or plastering his picture at the top of the article. #nonotoriety
— Josh Weinstein (@joshweinstein) February 15, 2018
For what it’s worth, FoxNews.com’s website this morning had the suspect’s face juxtaposed with crying students as its dominant image … exactly what experts caution against.
I know people will always seek information about the shooter, but some responsibility also falls on us as news junkies:
- Be discerning in our media choices. Avoid news orgs that seem to pander, speculate and sensationalize.
- Compare multiple sources. Don’t trust a news outlet that cites another news outlet as the source of information — unless it has independently confirmed the facts.
- Don’t reflexively retreat or repost dubious information.
I encourage you to read these recommendations from Reporting Mass Shootings.
And the advice below, from our friends at “On the Media.”