The Role of the Media in Mass Shootings

Every couple of years there are a spate of school shootings that break out across the country. I’m sad to say that 2014 has been one of those years, with several shootings so far.

It’s become a horrible pattern that the media has to own its culpability in.

You see, one shooting is a tragedy. But so often, what motivates these young people who open fire on their teachers, fellow students and families is not some disproportionate response to teen angst. The driving factor is a desire for recognition.

And the media gives it to them.

Every time someone follows this despicable path, the media circus goes into overdrive. There is blanket coverage in every part of the country, guaranteeing that these previous nobodies become household names.

The result?

That multiple “copycat” killers pop up and wreak their own havoc in pursuit of fame and recognition.

So many more people die or have their lives ruined because the members of the media don’t have the foresight or self-restraint to suppress the names of the previous perpetrators.

In my estimation, this is criminal irresponsibility. Every time a shooting happens, psychologists, criminal profilers and often even the police come out in droves to request that the name of the shooter not be used in media reports, in order to prevent the deadly repetition bound to happen in a few days’ time.

And only once in recent history has that request been honoured by anyone in the media.

The recent Moncton shooting in Canada was met with outrage – and while some outlets reported the shooter’s name, Sun News decided not to run his name or image anywhere in their reporting.

I applaud them for their responsible and respectful approach to an issue that needs much more careful attention from this industry.